The death of a Copiague man in a Huntington Station restaurant after a carbon monoxide leak there has led to a flurry of legislation that would require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in various commercial and business establishments. Several state legislators from Long Island, as well as officials in Suffolk County and Hempstead Town, are among those who have announced plans to address the issue. The local efforts are well-intentioned, but if carbon monoxide poisoning is a public health issue that warrants legislative action, it would be done most effectively on the state level.
Carbon monoxide detectors already are required under state law in residences and multiple dwellings, such as hotels and motels, but there are no regulations governing their installation in most businesses. In studying the issue, lawmakers need to consider the facts. More than 400 people nationally die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year. The vast majority succumb from incidents in private homes. Only half of the 50 states require detectors in various types of residential buildings. That's unfortunate.
But businesses do not have to wait to act while lawmakers pursue action. They are free to do the right thing -- as some already have -- and install carbon monoxide detectors on their own.