U.S. Water News Online
TOKYO -- Japanese gas appliance maker Paloma has been
ordered to recall gas water heaters that were linked to 21 deaths
from carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.
A total of 28 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, in which 21
people died, were reported between 1985 and 2005 and linked to
Paloma-made water heaters in Japan, according to Economy, Trade and
Industry Ministry official Atsushi Tanizawa.
In an emergency order, the ministry ordered Paloma Ltd., based in
Nagoya, central Japan, to recall an unspecified number of water
heaters after finding some parts of safety devices fitted on the
products were prone to breaking, Tanizawa said.
Paloma said on its Web site that it has inspected 23,849 water
heaters as of Aug. 27, out of 80,480 inspection requests across
Since the 21 deaths were disclosed in July, at least 176 cases of
modified heaters have been found by inspectors from Paloma. Tanizawa
said this prompted the ministry to conclude that the products were
defective because such modifications could be done with ease.
Yoshiko Ishikawa, a Paloma spokeswoman, said the company has yet
to confirm how many of about 260,000 units of seven models that were
sold in Japan between 1980 and 1989 are still in use. The models are
only sold in Japan.
Paloma President Toshihiro Kobayashi was summoned to the Ministry
of Economy, Trade and Industry, where Minister Toshihiro Nikai urged
the company to complete its checks of the seven models and recall
them as quickly as possible.
"I want you to spearhead the handling of the matter," Nikai told
Kobayashi in a nationally televised meeting.
"There are still a huge number of products yet to be inspected,"
Paloma had previously denied that its water heaters were to blame
for the deaths and said an earlier investigation found that the seven
models had been improperly modified.
But the company acknowledged last month that some of the poisoning
cases were the result of product degradation, according to media
The action by the ministry came less than three weeks after its
officials raided Paloma's head office and other locations on Aug. 10
to look for faults in the manufacturing process, check recalled water
heaters, and examine how it handled the fatality cases.
Many of the old units are believed to be no longer in use as
consumers changed to new models or other companies' products,
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