The US Consumer Product Safety Commission backtracked on claims it was considering banning all gas stoves across the United States over health concerns.
Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, said that potential regulations would only 'apply to new products' in a tweet Monday. 'CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products,' he added.
The backtrack came in response to a tweet from Republican lawmaker Rep. Gary Palmer, who voiced outrage that unelected officials could ban an appliance used by tens of millions of Americans.
The idea of banning was first raised by Democrat lawmakers Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Dan Beyer, who sent a letter to the the CPSC urging it to take action after a study found that gas stoves were linked to higher cases of asthma.
In his backtrack Monday, Trumka added that people who choose to switch to electric stoves would receive an $840 rebate due to President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act.
Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, said potential regulations would only 'apply to new products'
The CPSC had announced Monday that it plans to take action to address the pollution emitted by gas stoves, which in addition to asthma have been found to leak cancer-causing chemicals.
Trumpka told Bloomberg gas stoves were a 'hidden hazard,' and added that 'any option is on the table' and 'products that can't be made safe can be banned.'
The agency could also elect to set standards on emissions for gas stoves.
CPSC is now expected to open a public comment period about the harms of gas ranges later this winter.
It could then decide whether to ban them as soon as this year.
Democrats Rep. Dan Beyer of Virginia and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey sent a letter to the commission last month saying gas stove emissions disproportionately affect black, Latino and low-income communities
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now considering banning all gas stoves
The announcement comes on the heels of a new study that found roughly one in eight cases of childhood asthma in the US are the result of air pollution given off by gas stoves.
This puts emissions from gas cooking at the same asthma risk level as breathing in secondhand smoke.
Asthma affects roughly six million US children each year, and nearly 13 percent of them get it from breathing in the toxins that a gas stove gives off every day.
Findings from the team at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado suggest that the roughly 35 percent of American homes that use gas stoves should mitigate the spread of toxins like nitrogen dioxide and benzene by switching to an electric induction stove.
Their research is the latest installment in a growing body that shows the danger of having a gas stove in the home, which can also emit carcinogenic toxins that put people at risk of severe health effects.
Nearly 13 per cent of asthma cases in children on average can be blamed on the toxins produced by gas ranges. That is considerably higher in several states for which data was available including California, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania
Brady Seals, manager of the carbon free buildings program at RMI, who led the research, said the study proved that by getting rid of gas stoves, the proportion of children being diagnosed with asthma could be reduced by 12.7 percent.
The researchers from Colorado as well as Australia and New York analyzed the risk posed to children from gas emissions and the proportion of American households that have gas stoves, concluding that using gas greatly increased the risk of asthma.
The authors relied on 2019 census data to determine what proportion of American children are exposed to asthma-causing toxins produced by gas stoves, borrowing methodology from a 2018 analysis that found 12.3 percent of pediatric asthma cases in Australia were attributable to cooking on gas ranges.
In some states, the proportion of childhood asthma cases linked to gas ranges is even higher than the nationwide average. Illinois had the highest PAF number at more than 21 percent, while New York’s came in at nearly 19 percent.
‘Said another way, if we theoretically got rid of all the gas stoves in NY, we could prevent an estimated 18.8% of childhood asthma,’ Ms Seals said.
Children living in homes with gas stoves are also 42 percent more likely to have asthma, according to a 2013 report.
Gas stoves introduce toxic pollutants into the air even when they are turned off. Cooking on a gas range creates nitrogen dioxide, a known precipitator of asthma.
In fact, in 2019 alone, nearly two million cases of childhood asthma were estimated to be due to nitrogen dioxide poisoning.
That is the same pollutant associated with major highways. But because of the more enclosed nature of an indoor room when compared to outside, the pollution in a gas stove kitchen could be stronger than it is on a major freeway.
Gas stoves can also emit methane, which can cause a person to have trouble breathing and cause a rapid heartbeat.
Benzene may also leak from switched-off gas stoves. The chemical has been linked to the development of multiple cancers - though experts believe the amount leaked by stoves is not enough to pose serious danger.
Previous studies have found that gas stoves also give off hexane, which is known to cause permanent weakness and nerve damage in the feet, legs and hands of people who suffer long-term exposure.
Researchers have found the prevalence of about a dozen dangerous chemicals in gas stoves. One of them, hexane, has been linked to nerve damage. The cancer-causing benzene was detected in nearly every stove in a recent sample of gas ranges
Lawmakers have since asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to consider requiring warning labels, range hoods and performance standards for gas ranges.
In a letter to the agency last month, Sen. Booker, of New Jersey, and Rep. Beyer, of Virginia, urged the commission to take action and called gas stove emissions a 'cumulative burden on black, Latino and low-income households that disproportionately experience air pollution.
The Commission is now planning to open a comment period on the hazards posed by gas ranges later this winter.
Meanwhile, state and local policymakers are targeting the use of natural gas in buildings as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nearly 100 cities and counties have adopted policies that require or encourage a move away from fossil fuel-powered buildings, including in New York City where the city council voted to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings under seven stories by the end of the year.
The California Air Resources Board also voted unanimously in September to ban the sale of natural gas-fired furnaces and water heaters by 2030.
Gas stove manufacturers argue that they are just as harmful as other means of cooking
But gas stove manufacturers say they are just as harmful as other means of cooking and should not be banned.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, which represents companies like Whirlpool Corp, said in a statement that cooking of any kind produces emissions and harmful byproducts.
'Ventilation is really where this discussion should be, rather than banning one particular type of technology,' Jill Notini, the group's vice president told Bloomberg.
'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.'
Natural gas distributors also argue that a ban on natural gas stoves would drive up costs for homeowners and restaurants with little environmental gain.
The American Gas Association, for example, said that regulatory agencies have presented no documented evidence linking breathing problems to gas stoves.
'The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and EPA do not present gas ranges as a significant contributor to adverse air quality or hath hazard in their technical or public information literature, guidance or requirements,' said Karen Harbert, the president.
'The most practical, realistic way to achieve a sustainable future where energy is clean, as well as safe, reliable and affordable, is to ensure it includes natural gas and the infrastructure that transports it.'
Meanwhile, Republicans say a ban would be more government overreach, with Mike McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist arguing: '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.
'It's transparently political,' he said.
All about asthma
Approximately 25 million Americans have it, including about six million children
It's a common but incurable condition which affects the small tubes inside the lungs.
It can cause them to become inflamed, or swollen, which restricts the airways and makes it harder to breathe.
The condition affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even go away as children grow older, but can return in adulthood.
Symptoms include wheezing, breathlessness, a tight chest and coughing, and these may get worse during an asthma attack.
Treatment usually involves medication, which is inhaled to calm down the lungs.
Triggers for the condition include allergies, dust, air pollution, exercise and infections such as cold or flu.
If you think you or your child has asthma you should visit a doctor, because it can develop into more serious complications like fatigue or lung infections.