• Kyodo

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1992 and 1994 were when defective Paloma Industries Ltd. water heaters saw their most carbon monoxide fatalities, as the devices further deteriorated with age and insufficient preventive steps were taken, company officials said Thursday.

Before 1993, carbon monoxide poisonings were caused by heaters using both liquefied petroleum gas and utility gas, but after that year, fatalities were only caused by water heaters designed for utility gas use, because warnings had been issued over improper alterations to fix malfunctions in LP gas heaters, the officials said.

Between 1985 and last year, there were 27 carbon monoxide poisonings, claiming 21 lives and injuring several others, they said, noting seven of the 1992 accidents killed five people and left 12 injured.

The water heater models that caused the accidents were sold from 1980 to 1989 and the officials said their operating lives began to come to an end in 1992. Until 1992, five of six fatal accidents caused by improper repairs occurred with heaters using LP gas.

The Nagoya-based manufacturer then consulted an industry group, and the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry distributed 40,000 manuals for prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning in March 1993 through an affiliate to LP gas dealers.

After that, there were no more fatalities involving water heaters using LP gas, but seven people in five cases died in 1994 due to improper repairs on water heaters using utility gas due to a lack of preventive steps by the industry, the officials said.

A Paloma official admitted there was insufficient warning over faulty water heaters using utility gas and a senior industry ministry official said there was insufficient coordination around that time between the then MITI divisions in charge of LP and utility gas.

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