A leading pharmacy chain has discovered many customers complaining about flu-like symptoms were actually suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning probably caused by a faulty boiler.
Calls for regular safety checks and the compulsory installation of carbon monoxide alarms have been given renewed force following the research by Lloydspharmacy.
The issue was identified after staff asked customers buying remedies for flu, headaches or nausea to undertake breath tests for carbon monoxide poisoning – often caused by leaks from malfunctioning boilers.
The company is now calling on the government to make carbon monoxide alarms compulsory in newly built homes, council owned properties and rented accommodation.
A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson said: “Milder cases of carbon monoxide leakage within the home can cause symptoms which are easily mistaken for other conditions.
“We have had a number of cases of people presenting such symptoms at our pharmacies which have turned out to be as a result of carbon monoxide leaks from gas appliances.”
The Carbon Monoxide Consumer Awareness Alliance (COCAA), co-ordinated by CORGI and involving major gas suppliers, industry representatives and victim support charities, has supported the research by Lloydspharmacy.
The research discovered that one in five boilers was more than 10 years old and 50 per cent of young people did not have their boiler serviced regularly. Meanwhile, only 27 per cent of rented accommodation and 29 per cent of council properties had carbon monoxide alarms installed.
A COCAA spokesman said: “We are fully behind this campaign. Encouraging the installation of carbon monoxide alarms is one of our goals for 2008.”