Legislation pointed at reducing carbon monoxide emissions has resulted in a drop in poisoning deaths. Carbon monoxide can be fatal if inhaled and is involved in a number of accidental deaths and suicides each year. The main sources of carbon monoxide are vehicle emissions and malfunctioning domestic heating equipment. In 1980, the Clean Air Act was passed in the US to reduce carbon monoxide. The use of catalytic converters in cars helps bring down the carbon monoxide content of exhaust fumes.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been assessing the impact the Act has had on carbon monoxide mortality. They find a decrease of 20 per cent in accidental deaths and 6.0 per cent in suicides, linked with carbon monoxide, between 1980 and 1997. In other words, nearly 10,000 deaths have been avoided since the introduction of the Act - a clear public benefit.