Recent comments about banning gas stoves have lit a bit of a political flame. But it might turn out to be a tempest in a teapot. Politicians have blasted the notion of banning gas stoves after a federal regulator seemed open to it. It turns out, there are no plans to shut off the stoves for now — but there are significant concerns about their health risks.
In a statement on social media, U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said “Over the past several days, there has been a lot of attention paid to gas stove emissions and to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards. But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so. CPSC is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks. CPSC also is actively engaged in strengthening voluntary safety standards for gas stoves. And later this spring, we will be asking the public to provide us with information about gas stove emissions and potential solutions for reducing any associated risks. This is part of our product safety mission – learning about hazards and working to make products safer.”
In August of last year, Illinois state Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi wrote a letter to the agency calling on it to establish safety standards and warnings. He also asked why this had not been done, since an EPA report showed the dangers of gas stoves as early as 1986.
Dr. Ravi Kalhan is a professor and the deputy chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s actually not new information that gas stoves emit chemicals, fumes, vapors, gases that can be hazardous to one’s health.” Kalhan credits a recent study that shows about 12% of childhood asthma cases are attributable to the use of gas-powered stoves.
“Nitric dioxide, NO2, as well as particulate matter, fine particulates, both of those things cause inflammation in airways and a variety of other health effects and can certainly make asthma worse, as well as a variety of other health conditions.”
Seth Whitehead is the executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Resources Board. Whitehead said that while gas-powered stoves can pose a risk, there are more emissions created from cooking food itself. “The food itself has nearly 17 times more emissions.” Whitehead pointed out that the commissioner with the CPSC who made comments about the dangers of gas stoves walked back his comments, showing just how safe and clean gas stoves can be. The White House said Wednesday that President Joe Biden does not support a ban on gas stoves.
Kalhan and Whitehead agree that consumers should take safety measures while cooking with natural gas or propane, such as using an exhaust fan or opening a window when possible.