Date published: 5th December 2018

Businesses that burn charcoal indoors are being asked to check the suitability of their extraction and ventilation systems in removing the carbon monoxide that is produced as part of the process. The installation of hardwired carbon monoxide alarms is also being advised.

North Norfolk District Council’s Environmental Health Department are addressing the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from burning charcoal indoors, after a recent inspection identified high levels of carbon monoxide gas from a charcoal oven in a commercial kitchen. The visit resulted in an enforcement notice being served on the business, requiring them to stop using the equipment.

Carbon monoxide is produced by incomplete combustion during the burning of fossil fuels (for example charcoal) and high levels can be produced in confined spaces such as kitchens, where there is inadequate ventilation.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous to people when it is inhaled, it replaces oxygen in the blood and can cause illness or can even be fatal. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless so it cannot be detected by people.  Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include:

  • Headache
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Collapse
  • Unconsciousness
  • Suffocation

The Council wants to raise awareness of this issue.  Visits to other commercial kitchens, known to cook using solid fuels, will shortly be carried out as part of North Norfolk District Council’s targeted intervention programme.

Anyone concerned about the issues above or considering the use of charcoal fuelled equipment in their commercial kitchen should contact the Environmental Health, Public Protection Team via 01263 513811 for advice.

A Council spokesmen said: “We want to ensure the safety of all our residents, as part of this we hope that local restaurants will follow our advice and ensure that where charcoal is used indoors, all appropriate controls are put in place to protect members of staff and the wider public, from what is a potentially deadly gas.”

Last updated: 5th December 2018