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Development of a Test Method to Determine Carbon Monoxide Emission Rates from Portable Generators



Steven J. Emmerich, Andrew K. Persily


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is considering developing a performance standard to address the hazard of acute residential carbon monoxide (CO) exposures from portable gasoline engine-powered generators that result in death or serious and/or lasting adverse health effects in exposed individuals. As of April 23, 2013, the CPSC databases contain records of at least 739 deaths (in 552 incidents) from CO poisoning caused by consumer use of a generator in the period of 1999 through 2012. There were an additional 61 CO poisoning deaths (in 45 incidents) involving consumer use of both a generator and at least one other CO-producing consumer appliance, for a total of 800 CO poisoning deaths (in 597 incidents) involving generators for the same 14-year period. Typically, these deaths occur when consumers use a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space or outdoors near an open door, window or vent.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1834
Report Number


carbon monoxide, CONTAM, emergency generators, multizone airflow model, simulation, test procedure


Emmerich, S. and Persily, A. (2014), Development of a Test Method to Determine Carbon Monoxide Emission Rates from Portable Generators, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


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Created October 28, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018