The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a ban on gas stoves, given the increasing amount of studies that link the use of gas stoves to health issues — including a new study linked that nearly 13% of current childhood asthma cases in the country to gas stove use.
“This is a hidden hazard,” Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
A peer-reviewed study just published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health linked 650,000 cases of childhood asthma in the U.S. to the use of gas stoves — and according to the study, that’s on par for childhood asthma cases linked to exposure to secondhand smoke.
“It’s like having car exhaust in a home,” Brady Seals, a manager at RMI who co-authored the research, told Washington Post. “And we know that children are some of the people spending the most time at home, along with the elderly.”
As it stands, natural gas stoves are used in about 40% of homes in the United States. Gas stoves emit air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and levels of fine particulate matter deemed unsafe by organizations such as the EPA and the World Health Organization. Potential health hazards produced by the use of a gas stove include respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, certain cancers, and other illnesses.
Like many of the other compounding factors of climate change, air pollution caused by gas stoves disproportionately impacts communities of color. Some natural gas companies, like SoCalGas, have tried to paint the push to move to electric from gas a racist one, citing the fact that many Black and Latino communities rely on gas stoves without addressing the fact that there is a less harmful, more environmentally friendly electric option available.
“These emissions can create a cumulative burden to households that are already more likely to face higher exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) in December 2022 as they urged the CPSC to actively work to mitigate the exposure risks associated with gas stoves.
“Statistics show that Black, Latino, and low-income households are more likely to experience disproportionate air pollution, either from being more likely to be located near a waste incinerator or coal ash site, or living in smaller homes with poor ventilation, malfunctioning appliances, mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, lead dust, pests, and other maintenance deficiencies,” the congress members added.
Even before the CPSC talked of gas stove bans, health experts were warning of the increasing health risks associated with their use. Thanks to the the Inflation Reduction Act, some lower- and middle-income households with gas stoves are eligible for a rebate of up to $840 for the purchase of new electric ranges.
Of course, replacing a gas stove with an electric stove can be costly — or not even an option for some who rent. So for those looking to mitigate the health risks associated with gas stove use, be sure to turn on the stove’s hood to increase circulation, and open windows if possible while cooking with gas.