CPSC To Set Rules For Gel Fuels, Fire Pots

In an effort to prevent further injuries and deaths from the use of gel fuels in firepots, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just voted, in a unanimous 4-to-0 vote, to publish an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPR) aimed at improving the safety of gel fuels and firepots.

The ANPR was prompted by several serious consumer injuries and deaths related to use of these dangerous products. To date, the CPSC is aware of 65 incidents from April 2010 and September 2011 and which led to two deaths and at least 34 victims who required hospitalization for second and third degree burns of the face, chest, hands, arms or legs.

The ANPR, said the CPSC, invites written comments from the public concerning injury risks linked to gel fuels and firepots as well as ways in which to address these risks. Following publication of the ANPR in the Federal Register, the public has 60 days to provide comments to the Commission, which can be submitted to www.regulations.gov. The CPSC also pointed out that the ANPR alerts industry to potential introduction of labeling, product performance of a ban should no adequate standard be found. This enables manufacturers to present evidence that they have created effective industry standards.

Consumer Reports explained that the CPSC initiated an investigation, which is still ongoing, into gel fuel-related burn accidents, which it warned can burn and poison consumers when adding gel fuel to firepots, patio torches, and other products.

The New York Times wrote about two different accidents in New York that took place on May 28 and June 3, said Consumer Reports. Both involved products made by Napa Home & Garden and left three individuals severely burned and requiring hospitalization, said Consumer Reports. The Times then wrote about six other nationwide accidents since April 2010 that injured eight people burned by products made by Napa Home & Garden or BirdBrain, wrote Consumer Reports.

We’ve been following reports about a number of serious injuries and at least one massive recall of pourable gel fuel that involved Napa, Bird Brain Gel, and eight other firms which cited burn and flash fire hazards. That recall involved all pourable gel fuels made or sold by these companies and involved an estimated 2 million units of various pourable gel fuels. Information regarding the original September fuel gel recall announcement can be found at: http://www.newsinferno.com/product-recalls/nine-firms-recall-fuel-gel-after-fire-burn-reports.

Napa Home & Garden just asked Bed Bath and Beyond—its largest seller—to stop selling the fire gel products, for now; following with a press release saying it placed a “precautionary hold” on the sale of its products while it reviews product safety and warning label sufficiency, said Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, according to Consumer Reports’ Don Mays, Senior Director of Product Safety, warning labels are not really the issue, “The product should not result in explosions and severe burns in the event that the warning labels are not read or heeded.”

The CPSC warns against pouring fuel into open flames and hot candles over reports of fuel splattering and uncontrolled fires, and recommends fuel only be added when flames are out and the product feels cool when touched. The CPSC recommends gel fuel be secured away from children, noting that most contain petroleum distillates, a type of hydrocarbon that, when ingested, can cause chemical pneumonia, pulmonary edema, or death, said Consumer Reports.

We also recently wrote about a pourable fuel gel recall of 23,400 bottles of Fireside Gel Fuel Bottles and another involving 39,000 bottles of Marshall Gardens PatioGlo Bio-Fuel Gel. In that case, the Marshall Group received four reports of incidents, resulting in three injuries with burns requiring hospitalization.

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