Switching to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) geysers to beat the erratic electricity supply could well be an acute health hazard with a recent study titled ‘Gas geyser syndrome: An important preventable cause of disabling neurological events’, published in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology stating that “this simple and economic device used on a daily basis in many Indian households may cause certain significant disabling neurological events”.

The study conducted by the Department of Neurology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, noted that “over a period of two years (2008-10) 26 cases were documented as presenting with unexplained neurological events while bathing in an ill-ventilated bathroom with a functional flue-less gas geyser. The cases were mainly of three distinct prototypes -- namely seizures like episodes seen in 11 patients, carbon monoxide intoxication in 13 patients with near cardiac arrest in four, and as a precipitating factor for epilepsy as seen in two cases”.

“The possible attributable cause for these events could be exposure to high amounts of various toxic gases, mainly carbon monoxide, released due to incomplete combustion of LPG in gas geysers in small ill-ventilated bathrooms in homes,” noted the study. Highlighting and speaking about the need for increased awareness regarding gas geyser causing epilepsy and associated carbon monoxide intoxication, both of which are entirely preventable conditions, Dr. Pamela Correia, a member of team that conducted the study, said: “We also want to emphasise on the importance of stringent and universal implementation of gas geyser usage and installation laws.”

“Flue-less gas geysers are proving to be the modern day gas chambers with the stark contrast that these geysers are installed willingly and in good faith by innocent consumers. These water heaters are considered dangerous if used to supply hot water to a bath or shower, because the products of combustion containing carbon monoxide discharge directly into the room and may build up to dangerous levels,” Dr. Correia added.

Giving example of how hazardous the geyser can be the study also highlighted the case of a 14-year-old male child who was found unconscious on the bathroom floor with some frothing from the mouth.

“He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for probable seizure. A MRI brain was done, which was normal. He had no history of previous seizures or head injury and no family history. He reported another convulsive episode at school a few weeks later too. The family, on doctor’s advice, then shifted their LPG geysers to their balcony which is well-ventilated and the boy has been seizure free for about a year now,” noted the study.