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After Moorhead family deaths, Klobuchar and Hoeven push agency on carbon monoxide protection

Minnesota Democrat and North Dakota Republican are seeking more information on a federal agency's efforts to curb carbon monoxide poisoning after a family of 7 died from a buildup of the odorless gas in their Moorhead home last month.

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ST. PAUL — After a Minnesota family of seven died from a carbon monoxide build-up in their home last month, Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven are seeking more information from a federal agency on its efforts to keep Americans safe from the dangerous gas.

The senators sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Monday, Jan. 10, requesting information on actions the agency has taken to prevent future incidents and data collection on home carbon monoxide poisoning in 2021. They're also seeking information on agency efforts to work with states on promoting awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning and whether the agency provides education and outreach in languages other than English.

Amy Klobuchar.jpg
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
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Seven members of a family from Honduras were found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in a Moorhead home on Dec. 18. A married couple in their 30s were found on the floor of their children's upstairs bedroom. The children, a 16-year-old, 7-year-old and 5-year-old, were found in their beds. The husband's 32-year-old brother and the couple's 19-year-old niece were found in their bed in a separate room.

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The Hernandez-Pinto family. Photo via Facebook
Photo via Facebook

More than 400 people die from inhaling the gas each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The colorless, odorless gas is a byproduct of combustion and is often introduced into homes by improperly ventilated furnaces and water heaters, portable generators, wood fires and vehicles running in attached garages.

The state of Minnesota requires every single-family dwelling and every unit in a multi-family dwelling to have a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum in 2017 vetoed a bill that would have required homes in the state to have carbon monoxide alarms.

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John Hoeven
John Hoeven

The Consumer Product Safety Commission currently takes steps to educate consumers such as posting tips to its website and social media, but the senators said in their letter that the agency could do more to protect the public. Their letter asks the agency if it needs more resources for outreach or investigations.

Klobuchar and Hoeven in the past have introduced legislation aimed at preventing deaths caused by the gas. The Nicholas and Zachary Burt Memorial Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act , named for two young brothers who died of CO poisoning in Kimball, Minnesota, calls for stronger federal oversight of devices designed to detect carbon monoxide.

The Minnesota Democrat and North Dakota Republican reintroduced the legislation in early 2021 after reports of deaths from CO after extreme winter weather in Texas.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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