A new state law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in new rentals as of July 1 affects only some landlords for now, but owners of older rentals and private homeowners will have to meet the requirements, too.

A new state law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in new rentals as of July 1 affects only some landlords for now, but owners of older rentals and private homeowners will have to meet the requirements, too.

With the passage of House Bill 3450, Oregon law requires carbon monoxide alarms for new rental units containing carbon monoxide sources by July 1. All other rental units must comply by April 1, 2011, as well as homes for sale and any new residential construction. Other structures affected are those being reconstructed, altered or repaired that require a building permit.

HB 3450, called the Lofgren and Zander Memorial Act, is named after four members of the Lofgren family of Aspen, Colo., who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2008, and Kara Zander of Beaverton, who also was poisoned in 2002.

"It's a pretty big deal," said David Wright, president of Commercial Property Management, which manages several thousand rentals. "It's definitely a cost to the landlord."

Since the beginning of the year, Wright said, his company has started installing battery-operated carbon-monoxide detectors in all new residential rentals with carbon monoxide sources or attached garages.

Wright said the new expenses involved purchasing and installing alarms, amending rental agreements to include carbon monoxide disclosures, providing instructions to renters and training staff and renters to use the alarms. Tenants are responsible for proper future functioning of the units, as well as maintaining working batteries.

Although the law adds additional costs for landlords, Wright said, "This one is pretty good because it protects everybody, both the tenant and the landlord."

Colleen Olson, training and development specialist with the State Fire Marshal's Office, said all tenants and homeowners should be aware of the risks from carbon monoxide, even those not affected by the new rule.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 2,000 people every year in the United States and injures more than 10,000, according to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association cited by the State Fire Marshal's office.

Carbon monoxide poisoning resembles flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and headaches. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes by depleting oxygen which causes nervous system and heart problems.

Olson said carbon monoxide alarms are a safety issue.

"It's a unit there to protect us," she said, and all residents with devices emitting carbon monoxide or with attached garages should have the alarms installed.

"Many people don't even know they have a carbon monoxide source," she said, adding that any equipment that emits the colorless, odorless gas poses a risk, including a vehicle parked and running in a garage.

Carbon monoxide sources include heaters, fireplaces, furnaces or stoves that use coal, wood, petroleum products and other fuels that emit carbon monoxide as a by-product of combustion. Petroleum products include kerosene, natural gas and propane.

An attached garage with a door, duct work or a ventilation shaft that connects directly with a living space is also considered a source under the law, as are water heaters and pellet stoves.

Olson said attached structures exempt from the law include carports, open garages and enclosed parking garages ventilated in accordance with state mechanical codes.

Correct installation of the detectors is important, Olson said.

"It's important to follow the manufacturer's recommended installation instructions," she said, because carbon monoxide detectors are installed in different places depending on the sensing devices within the unit. Some are installed low on walls, some high on walls or ceilings.

"Put them where the manufacturer says to put it," she said.

For more information, call the State Fire Marshal's Office at 503-378-3473, or visit the State Fire Marshal's website, www.oregon.gov/osp/sfm.

Reach reporting intern Vera Westbrook at reporting intern for the Mail Tribune.