CPSC looking at new safety standards for gas stoves; ban not on the table despite risks

Restaurants Sue Berkeley
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jan 10, 2023

The Consumer Product Safety Commission places rules and regulations on products for sale in the U.S. In rare cases, the CPSC issues a ban on dangerous products.

One such product a CPSC commissioner is proposing to ban is gas stoves.

“This is a hidden hazard,” Richard Trumka Jr., an agency commissioner, told Bloomberg. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the CPSC, said no proposed actions are on the table.

“CPSC has not proposed any regulatory action on gas stoves at this time,” she said in a statement to Scripps News. “Any regulatory action by the Commission would involve a lengthy process. Agency staff plans to start gathering data and perspectives from the public on potential hazards associated with gas stoves and proposed solutions to those hazards later this year. Commission staff also continues to work with voluntary standards organizations to examine gas stove emissions and address potential hazards.”

Trumka Jr. later clarified on Twitter that any actions would only apply to new products.

"To be clear, CPSC isn't coming for anyone's gas stoves," he stated.

On Wednesday, CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric said he is "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 any health risks. CPSC also is actively engaged in strengthening voluntary safety standards for gas stoves. 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," Hoehn-Saric said.

Eric Lebel, a senior scientist for PSE Health Energy, said there are two main concerns that gas stoves pose. One is that stoves can emit methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

“It is both a climate and a health concern,” Lebel said. “We know that methane is a strong greenhouse gas. It is 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over a 20-year lifespan. We need to do all we can to reduce methane emissions from all sources. Natural gas is one of the contributors to methane emissions in the U.S. We’re finding it can be leaked from the appliances themselves; it is not just the production of natural gas and the transmission.”

He said the other concern is that stoves can release harmful gasses such as nitrous oxide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, large doses of nitrous oxide can cause dizziness. Long-term exposure can lead to infertility, the CDC said.

“There are other gasses that are harmful to human health and even the combustion of the gas. That is another thing that we’re getting more research on,” Lebel said.

These gasses can come from the combustion itself, in addition to gasses that are not burned off during use.

Lebel said policymakers should use the data to help them with their decision-making.

“We definitely have available data when making decisions. We have seen a lot of research has come out recently, and even in the past, and making sure that we take advantage of what the data tells,” he said. “The story here is that having natural gas comes with climate and health concerns. Those definitely don’t need to be discounted.”

To combat household health concerns, Lebel said that users can use alternative cooking methods, such as a crockpot, that plugs into an outlet. He also recommends increasing ventilation near stoves, which can be done using a vent hood or opening windows.

“Now that we know these risks with having a gas stove in your house, there are things you can do in some ways to minimize that risk,” he added.

Lebel noted that through the August 2022 passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the government will soon allow states to distribute rebates of up to $840 per unit to allow eligible Americans to purchase a new range. The details of the rebate program, however, have not been released by the Biden administration.