A Biden administration official said Wednesday there is no ban on the sale of new gas stoves in the works, after a colleague’s Monday comments raising the possibility sparked backlash from conservatives.
Hoehn-Saric’s statement followed a comment by Richard Trumka Jr., a CPSC commissioner, to Bloomberg News in a Monday interview that such a move is possible in light of research showing that gas stoves pollute indoor air and suggesting they are responsible for an estimated 12.7% of U.S. childhood asthma cases. Roughly 40% of American households have gas stoves.
“This is a hidden hazard,” Trumka said. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
Later on Monday Trumka doubled down, tweeting, “My guiding duty is protecting consumer health and safety. Gas stoves can emit dangerous level of toxic chemicals - even when not in use - and @USCPSC will consider all approaches to regulation.”
His comments angered some, especially on the right, who argued that banning gas stoves would impinge on personal freedom. In some cases they used language typical of the gun rights movement.
“I’ll NEVER give up my gas stove,” tweeted Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas. “If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands. COME AND TAKE IT!!”
“Over 40 million American households use gas stoves,” Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., tweeted. “This type of power should never have been given to unelected bureaucrats and it is time for it to end.”
Trumka then clarified that any regulation would apply only to new appliances, not existing ones already in people’s homes, but Palmer reiterated on Tuesday that he thinks a ban on selling new gas stoves in the future would go too far regardless.
It’s not only children whose health may be affected by air pollution from gas stoves. As Yahoo News reported last week, the recent study on childhood asthma “follows other research showing gas stoves are harmful to indoor air quality. In 2020, UCLA public health researchers commissioned by the Sierra Club found that 90% of homes have unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution after cooking with gas for one hour. A 2020 study by [think tank] RMI found homes with gas stoves have 50% to over 400% higher nitrogen dioxide concentrations than homes with electric stoves. When burned, gas also emits harmful substances, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.”
Gas use also contributes to outdoor air pollution, another primary driver of asthma. The same toxins that harm children’s lungs while they are indoors contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, also known as smog, which is toxic. And methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a powerful short-term greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming; a study from January of last year found that gas stoves leak methane even when they are not in use.
The American Gas Association (AGA) disputed the recent childhood asthma rate study, noting that it was extrapolated from data on gas stoves in U.S. households and the rate of asthma in homes with and without gas stoves, not a real-life experiment.
“The claims made in [the study] are derived from an advocacy-based mathematical exercise that doesn’t add any new science,” AGA president and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement emailed to Yahoo News on Monday by a spokesperson for the industry trade group. “The authors conducted no measurements or tests based on real-life appliance usage, emissions rates, or exposures, and did not adequately consider other factors that are known to contribute to asthma and other respiratory health outcomes.”
Some cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and New York, have begun banning the installation of gas appliances in new construction.
In December of last year, eight senators and 12 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the CPSC asking the agency to take action on gas stove pollution. The letter did not call for a ban on gas stoves but instead asked for regulations to require ventilation and performance standards to limit leakage.
Hoehn-Saric said Wednesday that the CPSC may develop regulations to limit the air pollution from gas stoves and that the agency will seek public comments on the matter in the spring.
“CPSC is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks,” he said in his statement.
Trumka had told Bloomberg that “setting standards on emissions from the appliances” was a potential alternative to a ban.
The AGA pledged in its email to Yahoo News to advocate for the gas industry in any proceeding to consider future regulations.
“The natural gas utility industry is fully committed to consumer health and safety and reducing emissions,” Harbert said. “As concerns over emissions from gas ranges are raised and debated, the natural gas industry is focused on bringing objective data-driven analysis and technical information to the discussion.”