They were talking about gas heaters (not oil column ones) and how if they are the "unflued" variety (which are most made pre-1990) then they emit some dangerous chemicals into the air. I have copied the information from the website below for those who missed it.
Pretty scary stuff!
Experts have raised the alarm over poisonous gases emitted from unflued gas heaters. Studies show them generating twice the safe levels of nitrogen dioxide.
About one million households in Australia use unflued gas heaters because they're energy efficient and cheap to run. But they could be dangerous to your health.
Environmental air consultant Len Ferrari says nitrogen dioxide is a dangerous byproduct of unflued gas heaters - that is, gas heaters without proper exhaust fans.
"The three most common gases that we're worried about from unflued gas heaters are NO2, CO and formaldehyde," Mr Ferrari said. "The main health problems from NO is from respiratory effects - particularly young children or old people who have asthma." "It can bring on an asthma attack," he said.
Professor Louis Pilotto from Flinders University conducted his own groundbreaking experiment, monitoring 118 kids with asthma from 18 schools for three months.
"We looked at chest tightness, difficulty breathing, cough, wheezing and asthma attacks," Professor Pilotto said.
In the first study of its kind in Australia Professor Pilotto replaced unflued gas heaters in half of the schools with electricity or vented gas. The results were alarming. "The asthma symptoms in the children were reduced in those children in which we'd taken unflued gas heaters out of the classrooms and replaced them with electrical or flued gas heaters," Professor Pilotto said.
Western Australian health minister Jim McGinty is stunned at the results and has issued a public warning. "For people thinking of buying an unflued gas heater, I'd urge you to think again," Mr McGinty said.
To show just how toxic the nitrogen dioxide levels can be, we asked Mr Ferrari to put three unflued gas heaters to the test.
In the first home the nitrogen dioxide levels soared to 237 parts per billion - more than double the 110 parts per billion considered safe by the World Health Organisation.
"At that sort of level some children with asthma may be affected," Mr Ferrari said.
He says the levels of nitrogen dioxide would increase if the heater was left on overnight, especially as the air outside cools down and the heater operates at higher levels.
Mr Ferrari also tested the air outside, finding that nitrogen dioxide levels were dramatically lower.
"The NO2 is now down to three parts per billion," he said. "So the air outside is actually healthier than the air inside."
In the next house, nitrogen dioxide levels peaked at a staggering 392 parts per billion - almost four times the safe level. In the third house Len registered a reading of 238.
"Quite often, even with ventilation, some of the heaters get even higher than this," Mr Ferrari said.
Mother-of-three Kathy Williams is in shock. She's just found out her unflued gas heater might cause asthma and breathing problems in her children.
"I didn't know nitrogen dioxide wasn't good for our health and I didn't know it was produced from these gas heaters," Ms Williams said.
"As a mother I'm very concerned about my children now, and them developing any things like asthma in the future."
"And I would do anything like any other mother to protect my children's health and safety."
Last winter the federal government commisioned Mr Ferrari to test more than 100 homes for toxic fumes from unflued gas heaters. The results were shocking and many of the homes had extremely high levels of nitrogen dioxide.
But the government still hasn't released those results to the public. "I think the government should be telling us about these sorts of heaters and the effects they have on children and adults today," Ms Williams said.
Rinnai, Australia's largest manufacturer of unflued gas heaters, responded to Mr Ferrari and Professor Pilotti's studies in a fax stating: "all unflued appliances are certified to Australian Standards". But it added that "heaters produced pre-1990 may have emission levels above the present standard."
However, the heaters we tested with Mr Ferrari were less than three years old. And all of them emitted more than double the recommended safe standard of nitrogen dioxide. According to pollution expert Dr Peter Dingle there are ways to minimise the risk.
"Just open the doors and windows a little bit, let a little bit of air come in to dilute it," Dr Dingle said. "Just that fraction, and that will help a little."
Ms Williams says she'll be looking at a different form of heating.
"Because if it's not good for the children's health we certainly need to look elsewhere," she said.
Gabriella, Chiara & angel called home