Gas heaters in the fir­ing line

Taranaki Daily News - - News -

Por­ta­ble gas heaters could be out­lawed in rentals as the Gov­ern­ment pre­pares to con­sult on new laws around heat­ing homes.

Min­i­mum heat­ing stan­dards for rental homes through­out the coun­try - in­clud­ing the types of heaters land­lords can pro­vide will be dis­cussed later this year as a re­sult of the new Healthy Homes Guar­an­tee Act 2017, Hous­ing Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said.

‘‘If a de­ci­sion was made to not al­low land­lords to pro­vide por­ta­ble gas heaters for use in rental homes, it would not re­sult in a ban on the sale of such heaters, only a pro­hi­bi­tion on land­lords us­ing them to meet their obli­ga­tions un­der the Act,’’ Twyford said.

That wouldn’t mean ten­ants could not bring their own heaters, but land­lords would be able to write a clause into con­tracts which would ban ten­ants from us­ing them, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment (MBIE).

But pub­lic health ex­pert and As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Nevil Pierse said these cheap gas heaters are adding to res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems and New Zealand should join the likes of Canada, Ire­land and New South Wales and ban them al­to­gether.

Por­ta­ble, or un­flued, gas heaters do not have fixed, at­tached vents to the out­side, so they re­lease ni­tro­gen diox­ide and car­bon monox­ide into the air, at lev­els high enough to ag­gra­vate, or even cause, asthma in chil­dren, Pierse said.

He said there’s ‘‘no doubt’’ these heaters con­trib­ute to res­pi­ra­to­ryre­lated overnight hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions which, in 2013, ac­counted for 1 in 10 of all overnight hos­pi­tal stays.

Chil­dren in homes with un­flued gas heaters miss more days of school, and homes which use these heaters have three times the amount of dan­ger­ous ni­tro­gen diox­ide, which can ag­gra­vate asthma, he said.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said a blan­ket ban isn’t on the cards, but al­ready strongly ad­vised against them as pri­mary heat­ing op­tions.

WorkSafe and the Min­istry of Health have ad­vice on their web­sites for peo­ple who use por­ta­ble un­flued gas heaters, which state ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion is nec­es­sary and peo­ple with res­pi­ra­tory is­sues should take ex­tra care.

WorkSafe said they were more suit­able for sup­ple­men­tary heat­ing than as a pri­mary heat­ing source.

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