Federal regulator considers a ban on gas stoves
Federal regulators are considering banning gas stoves as evidence mounts of their potential risks to human health.
Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka, Jr., told Bloomberg in an interview that a ban was “on the table.”
“Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” Trumka told the media outlet.
“We need to be talking about regulating gas stoves, whether it’s drastically reducing emissions or banning gas stoves entirely,” Trumka told a consumer safety group last month. A ban “is a powerful tool in our toolbox and it’s a real possibility here, particularly because there seem to be readily available alternatives already in the market.”
The CPSC will issue a request for information from consumers, industry groups and other parties on mitigating the effects of gas stoves by March, Trumka said in December in a talk before the Public Interest Research Group.
Trumka’s statements come as more research surfaces on the health impacts of gas-burning stoves. A December study found that 13% of childhood asthma cases nationwide can be blamed on indoor use of gas stoves. A previous study from a decade ago found that a gas stove at home increased a child’s risk of asthma by 42%.
Cooking on these stoves emits nitrous oxide and fine particulates, which can build up in minutes to levels deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency. Fine particulates have also been linked with higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a research article this month from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Even when gas stoves are off, meanwhile, they emit large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is dozens of times more damaging for the climate than carbon dioxide.
Citing the appliances’ harmful environmental impact, dozens of U.S. cities have banned gas stoves in new buildings, while about 20 states have banned them on the local level.
The American Gas Association has pushed back against Trumka’s comments, saying that emissions from cooking with gas are similar to emissions created when cooking with electric stoves.
“AGA is eager to submit for the record objective technical information related to the safety of gas cooking appliances and ways to reduce cooking process emissions — which are produced both by cooking with electricity and cooking with gas — from impacting indoor air quality,” the agency said in a statement.
But public health advocates say that stoves are a glaring exception in health laws that require gas-burning appliances to be vented outdoors. They say the latest research should impel cities and states to accelerate the transition to clean energy and get off fossil fuels entirely.
Gas is “killing us in our own homes,” Raya Salter, executive director of the Energy Justice Law and Policy Center, told City Limits recently.
Pushing for rules
Any regulation attempt will likely be met with pushback from industry, as well as some consumers who are attached to their gas stoves. And while some experts say there are superior cooking appliances, such as induction stoves, they cost more upfront than gas stoves, and many Americans conflate this technology with older electric-coil cooktops.
All the more reason to shine a light on the health and environmental concerns around gas stoves, CPSC’s Trumka said.
“The vast majority of Americans have no idea that every time they cook they could be subjecting themselves and their loved ones to toxic chemicals, including children who are more vulnerable to effects like developing asthma and lifelong respiratory disease,” he told PIRG.
Trumka sounded a hopeful note, saying that a proposed regulation could be on the books as early as December 2023.
“Just because the federal government isn’t known for moving quickly doesn’t mean it couldn’t,” he added.