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Brookhaven Town officials pass measure requiring home carbon monoxide detectors

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo.

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

The Brookhaven Town Board Tuesday night adopted a measure that supporters said makes the town the first in the nation to require digital carbon monoxide detectors in homes.

Supporters said the device -- which alerts homeowners to the potentially deadly poison before it reaches dangerous levels -- may prevent tragedies like the death this year of a restaurant manager in Huntington Station.

The town board voted unanimously to require new homes to immediately install the devices, which cost between $35 and $150 each. Existing homes would be required to have at least one of the devices by Aug. 1, 2021. The law does not affect businesses.

"I think this will help save lives," said Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who sponsored the legislation.

Neal Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, said before the vote that Brookhaven would be the first municipality in the nation to require digital detectors in homes. Hempstead and North Hempstead towns require the devices in "places of assembly," but not in homes or small businesses, he said.

"Brookhaven will be the first to say that all the residential [detectors] will be required to have this digital readout," Lewis said. "We're very excited that we have a town that is saying, 'We need to have a CO detector.' "

Unlike conventional detectors, which sound alarms when carbon monoxide reaches potentially lethal levels, digital units also show how much of the gas is present before it becomes dangerous, Lewis said.

Low levels of carbon monoxide, which may be emitted by car exhaust, ovens and furnaces, also cause maladies such as headaches, depression, memory loss, fatigue and lack of sleep, Lewis said.

Barbara LoMoriello, a holistic health coach from Huntington who spoke at the public hearing, said she was sickened by carbon monoxide several years ago.

"Had I had a detector that had shown the level, I would have known what was happening to myself," she said before the hearing. "It's important that we get these detectors. It's important that we get them into the homes."

Carbon monoxide poisoning causes more than 50,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States, according to a 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"People could be walking around with a range of illnesses and never thinking that it could be connected to some kind of mechanical instrument in their home," Lewis said.

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