Gas stoves could face new emissions standards or even be banned because of their link to indoor air pollutants and childhood asthma, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The federal agency will open public comment on gas cooking stoves and their hazards sometime this winter, Bloomberg News reported.
“This is a hidden hazard,” agency commissioner Richard Trumka Jr., said in an interview. “Any option is on the table. Products that can't be made safe can be banned.”
About 12% of childhood asthma cases can be linked to gas stove use, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“There is about 50 years of health studies showing that gas stoves are bad for our health, and the strongest evidence is on children and children's asthma,” said study co-author Brady Seals, a manager in the carbon-free buildings program at RMI, a nonprofit clean energy group. “By having a gas connection, we are polluting the insides of our homes.”
About 40% of Americans have natural gas stoves in their homes.
The stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter at levels deemed unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), according to Bloomberg News.
In October, Consumer Reports urged readers to buy electric after tests on gas ranges found high levels of nitrogen oxide gases.
The issue is one likely to generate back and forth as interest groups weigh in on the issue.
Lawmakers have asked for requiring warning labels, range hoods and performance standards. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, both Democrats, were among those who wrote to the CPSC last month urging action and calling the emissions a “cumulative burden” on Black, Hispanic and low-income households, according to Bloomberg News.
Some Republicans have called the plans government overreach.
“If the CPSC really wanted to do something about public health, it would ban cigarettes, or automobiles, long before it moved on to address stoves,” said Mike McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist. “It's transparently political.”
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, which represents gas range manufacturers, said all cooking produces emissions, not just gas.
“Ventilation is really where this discussion should be, rather than banning one particular type of technology,” said Jill Notini, a vice president with the Washington, D.C.-based trade group. “Banning one type of a cooking appliance is not going to address the concerns about overall indoor air quality. We may need some behavior change, we may need [people] to turn on their hoods when cooking.”
Policymakers in nearly 100 cities and counties have adopted policies that require or encourage a move away from fossil fuel-powered buildings in an effort to address climate change, Bloomberg News reported.
This includes the New York City Council, which voted in 2021 to ban natural gas hookups in some new buildings. The California Air Resources Board voted in September to ban natural gas-fired furnaces and water heaters by 2030.
Natural gas distributors have said that bans on this fuel would offer little environmental benefit but would increase costs.
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and EPA do not present gas ranges as a significant contributor to adverse air quality or health hazard in their technical or public information literature, guidance, or requirements,” said Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association.
The Inflation Reduction Act may provide some relief to consumers who can get rebates of up to $840 to purchase new electric ranges, part of $4.5 billion to help low- and moderate-income households electrify their homes, Bloomberg News reported.
The commission could issue a proposal as soon as this year, Trumka said.
“There is this misconception that if you want to do fine-dining kind of cooking it has to be done on gas,” Trumka said. “It's a carefully manicured myth.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on childhood asthma.
SOURCE: Bloomberg News, Jan. 9, 2023