Biden Administration Not Going to Seize Your Gas Stove, But Environmental Health Concerns May Lead to Regulations

On January 9th, 2023, the conservative outlet National Review published an article that stated the Biden administration is considering stricter regulation of gas stoves over health and environmental concerns. The article’s headline reads, “Capital Matters Warned You about Gas-Stove Hysteria.” Not long after the article was published, social media users claimed that U.S. President Biden’s administration was considering banning gas stoves over climate change concerns. For example, Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson tweeted on January 10th, “I’ll NEVER give up my gas stove. If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands.” As of today, January 11th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a federal agency, is not currently considering a ban on gas stoves. Therefore the claim that the government is banning gas stoves or that they plan on seizing people’s stoves is false. 

Although they have yet to be nationally regulated, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have linked gas stoves to a wide range of health concerns, including cardiovascular problems and cancer. In a study published last year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, gas stoves were found to be the cause of around 12% of childhood asthma cases in the U.S.

Gas stoves also rely on natural gas, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Several local governments have implemented laws to curb the reliance on appliances that require the combustion of fossil fuels. In 2021, a New York City law went into place that bans the use of fossil fuels in new buildings, accelerating the construction of all-electric buildings in the city. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, CPSC agency commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. suggested that the banning of these stoves could be a possible solution. “This is a hidden hazard,” he said. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” 

Miranda Leppla, the director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Case Western Reserve University School of Law has this to say on what this could mean.

If they can’t make a product safe, then they will ban it, but if they can make a product safe, they’ll try to do that first, typically because that’s easier and makes more sense for the public. What I think will probably happen is that they’ll look at trying to put some limitations on what types of emissions and how much natural gas stoves are permitted to release, and if for some reason they can’t make it safe after they try these different parameters, then I think a ban could be the next step.

Chris Cappa, Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis weighs in…

The natural gas on which stoves run is mostly methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Given the large number of gas stoves nationwide, leaks from gas stoves directly along with leaks from the infrastructure that brings the gas to our homes and businesses add up to be a major source of methane to the atmosphere. Separately, the combustion of natural gas in stoves and other appliances, such as water heaters, produces harmful byproducts such as nitrogen oxides (called NOx) and carbon monoxide and toxic compounds such as formaldehyde. In confined spaces with poor ventilation, such as many of our homes, this can lead to these compounds building up to high levels and can exacerbate things like asthma. Moreover, uncombusted natural gas includes some toxic impurities, such as benzene, which can leak into homes and businesses. 

The new generation of induction stovetops can provide a cooking experience that is almost indistinguishable from cooking over a flame and without these same health concerns. 

Dr. Andrea De Vizcaya Ruiz, associate professor of environmental and occupational health with the UC Irvine Program in Public Health, has this to say…

Amidst the discussion upon reducing natural gas stove use and replacing them with electrical stoves, there are fundamental factors that need to be considered. Burning of natural gas generates indoor air pollution of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, which are known to affect the respiratory tract and are associated with asthma prevalence. And electrical stoves would reduce or annul the presence of these agents. However, this isolated action does not reduce indoor air pollution completely, and there needs to be a parallel action to provide enough energy for the increase in its demand. Improve indoor ventilation, avoid smoking and vaping, and use cooking hoods (which should be clean and regularly checked). Also, the use of electrical stoves imposes a higher monthly bill which will immediately affect underserved or low-income communities, making monthly rent or even buying a home more difficult. This will be an issue in a state like California where living expenses are already high and there is a high demand of energy during the hot months due to cooling appliances (AC and ventilators). Holistic efforts are fundamental and need to be well thought and accompanied by public policies and economic support for the affected communities.

On the topic of gas stoves, below is a comment from Steve Allison, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine. Allison is a climate activist who is a strong proponent of residential appliance electrification as a climate mitigation tool. He was part of an initiative driving this recently with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. 

Studies show that burning natural gas indoors may cause health problems. A recent scientific paper attributed 13% of US childhood asthma cases to gas stove use in the home. The percentage was even higher—over 20%—in states like California where a larger fraction of houses have gas appliances. Burning gas releases pollutants into the air, especially NOx. Unless the stove is adequately vented—and most are not—those pollutants build up in the home, sometimes reaching levels that surpass air quality standards. In fact, cooking on a gas stove can make indoor air quality worse than a smoggy day in Los Angeles or Beijing. Even when turned off, stoves may leak natural gas and release pollutants into the air. The worst culprits are chemicals like benzene—a potent carcinogen—and methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Because of the risks to my children’s health and the climate, I switched out the gas stove in my California home for a magnetic induction model in 2021. That same year, I also replaced all other remaining gas-powered appliances so my home runs only on electricity. I’m now enjoying an improved, affordable cooking experience without the risk of asthma, cancer, or fires from having natural gas in my house.

Note to Journalists/Editors: The expert quotes are free to use in your relevant articles on this topic. Please attribute them to their proper sources.