Gas Stove Regulation Uproar? Here’s What’s Cooking…

Categorized as Food, Health Tagged

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is considering new rules for gas stoves due to the pollution they cause inside houses. These rules could range from standards for range hoods to a ban on gas stoves, but would only apply to new stoves – not existing ones. This has caused uproar as Americans have a long-standing love affair with the gas stove. The main problem with gas stoves is the high levels of nitrogen dioxide they produce, which can cause health problems. Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said any option is on the table, but forcing existing stoves to be replaced is not. Sen. Joe Manchin summed up the sentiment when he tweeted “The last thing that would ever leave my house is the gas stove that we cook on.”

Still a long way from the end of the gas stove

We’re still a long way from the end of the gas stove, which is a feature of 40 million American households, or about 38 percent. If you still prefer gas — whether you buy into the gas industry’s clever marketing, simply think it cooks better than induction, or can’t afford to swap for induction — no one is about to force you to give it up.

But in addition to the climate case for becoming less reliant on gas, there is growing concern about the potential health risks of gas as a source of indoor air pollution. That worrying science is the very reason the CPSC is looking at the machine in the first place.

Before you jump into this article… Just a heads up, the opinions expressed on this site are solely those of yours truly and should not be taken as medical advice. I’m just a regular person sharing my experiences and insights, so don’t sue me, okay? And hey, if you decide to buy something I mention through one of my affiliate links, I’ll make a few pennies to keep the lights on. But seriously, always consult with a doctor before starting any new health regimen. Stay healthy, stay happy!

Indoor pollution and Asthma

Gas stoves are a worrying source of indoor pollution and a cause of childhood asthma When the stove or oven clicks on, it starts by spilling out pure natural gas (which is really just methane, the world’s second-most problematic greenhouse gas). Once the burner is on, there are other pollutants accumulating in your kitchen, too, including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. The biggest concern is nitrogen dioxide, which causes cardiovascular problems and respiratory disease; it can make people, especially children, more likely to develop asthma. The pollutant can cause inflammation of the airways, coughing and wheezing, increased asthma attacks in everyone, and at dangerously high levels (over 200 parts per billion) the EPA warns everyone to limit their exposure. At these levels, children, older adults, and people with lung disease should avoid any exposure.

Nitrogen oxides are a byproduct of burning methane, so the gas stove or oven is working exactly as it’s meant to when producing this pollutant. Outside, the EPA would consider the level of NO2 produced by the stove illegal. Inside, though, there is no regulation.

And research spanning decades finds that nitrogen dioxide is at high levels when a gas stove and oven are in use. As early as the 1980s, the CPSC was aware of the health concerns associated with gas stoves, and so was the EPA. Indoor air quality scientists, like Shelly Miller, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, have told me the community has been aware of the risks since at least the 1990s. “Cooking,” she’s said, “is the Number 1 way you’re polluting your home. It is causing respiratory and cardiovascular health problems; it can exacerbate flu and asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in children.”

The growing evidence and public pressure led the American Medical Association to adopt the resolution this fall that recognizes “the association between the use of gas stoves, indoor nitrogen dioxide levels and asthma.” A December report published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health estimated that almost 13 percent of childhood asthma in the US is caused by exposure to nitrogen dioxide from gas stoves.

While the CPSC is considering new regulations, it’s important to note that any changes will be a long time coming. The process of creating new regulations includes gathering public comment, including from the gas industry, and evaluating the potential impact on small businesses. It’s likely that any new regulations will be phased in over time to give manufacturers and consumers time to adjust.

Not just a US issue

It’s also important to note that this is not just a US issue. According to the World Health Organization, 4.3 million people die prematurely from illness attributed to the household air pollution caused by solid fuel use for cooking.

The debate over gas stoves is not about taking away a beloved appliance, it’s about finding ways to address the potential health risks and looking for more sustainable options. And while the gas industry may push back against new regulations, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is to protect public health.

The industry says that the solution to pollution caused by gas stoves is to use ventilation. They say that all cooking, even on an electric burner or induction stove, produces pollution that should be ventilated. But a study on asthma found that ventilation decreases the risk but doesn’t eliminate it. Gas stoves are not required to be vented to the outside, which is the best way to reduce pollution. These systems are more common in restaurant kitchens, which have more strict health and safety rules than homes do. Gas stoves are not required to be sold with a hood, and many homes don’t have one at all.

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Ventilation is important

If you have a gas stove, it’s important to increase ventilation. Use the range hood if you have one, or use fans, air filters, and open a window. Some people might choose to buy an electric hot plate or smaller electric appliances like a kettle or toaster oven to use less gas.

The gas industry wants to keep people using gas stoves because it keeps them using gas. The CPSC is looking at stoves as a health issue, but cities and states are also looking at reducing gas use to fight climate change. Buildings are responsible for about 13% of US greenhouse gas emissions, and most of that is from gas combustion used for heating and cooking. Climate activists are trying to get buildings to use electricity instead of gas. The gas industry is trying to stop these efforts by disputing the science and launching PR campaigns. They have hired social media influencers to promote gas cooking and even hired a firm to create a fake protest against electrification.

It will take a long time for any new regulations to be put in place. Some states like California or New York may take action before the federal government does, but homeowners and building operators can choose to take advantage of new federal tax credits and rebates for electrifying their homes. The CPSC is likely to come up with a compromise solution, such as requiring stoves to be sold with hoods, setting performance standards for hoods, or equipping gas stoves with sensors to alert the user of pollution levels.

The CPSC is looking into new rules for gas stoves because they can cause pollution in our homes. This pollution is called nitrogen dioxide and can make it hard to breathe and make people more likely to get asthma. Some people really like gas stoves and don’t want to get rid of them. But the CPSC is looking into ways to make sure gas stoves don’t cause too much pollution. They might make rules like having a special hood to take away the bad air or maybe even ban new stoves. But they won’t make you get rid of the gas stove you already have. The CPSC is doing this to make sure we don’t get too much pollution in our homes so we can all stay healthy.

Can we make gas stoves safer?

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is looking at ways to make gas stoves safer to use in our homes. Gas stoves produce nitrogen dioxide, which is an invisible gas that can be harmful for our bodies, especially for children and older people. So the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide produced by gas stoves. This could mean that new gas stoves have to meet certain standards, like having range hoods or special sensors. But, existing gas stoves won’t be taken away. So if you have a gas stove in your home, you can keep using it, but you should also be sure to open a window or use a range hood to help reduce the amount of gas in the air.

The gas industry is highly incentivized to oppose any regulations as they want to maintain their customer’s attachment to gas stoves. Despite this, they do face regulations for other products such as furnaces and water heaters which reduce indoor air pollution. An executive of Berkshire Gas, Sue Kristjansson, has expressed the sentiment that they cannot give any ground to those who criticize gas stoves.

Science vs The Gas Industry

The fate of the gas stove may not ultimately be determined by science, but by the gas industry’s pushback and their efforts to maintain the use of gas stoves. While the CPSC is looking to address the potential health risks associated with gas stoves, cities and states are also looking to reduce their use from a climate change perspective. Buildings are responsible for about 13 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions, and most of that is due to the gas combustion used to power water heaters, heating, and cooking. Climate activists have launched campaigns throughout the country to get buildings to switch to electricity instead of gas, but the gas industry has been fighting back with elaborate PR campaigns and hiring social media influencers to promote gas cooking.

It will be a long and difficult road to regulation at a federal level, but in the meantime, homeowners and building operators can choose to take advantage of the newly available federal tax credits and rebates for electrifying their homes. The CPSC is likely to settle on a compromise approach, such as requiring stoves to be sold with hoods, establishing performance standards for those hoods, or equipping gas stoves with sensors that alert the user of pollution concentrations.

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