The ban on gas stoves has suddenly made the news like cooking plates join the M&Ms becoming another unlikely subject of politicized controversy in the United States.
In recent weeks, gas stoves have been called by some a danger – both to public health and the planet – that should be phased out. To others, the notion is ludicrous.
In reality, the controversy may be new, but the facts surrounding it are largely known.
On the health side, studies go back to the 1980s show that unvented natural gas stoves can cause indoor air pollution harmful to young lungs. And concerns about climate change have previously prompted some countries to try to ban new gas lines from being run to new construction.
How does climate change affect you?: Subscribe to Climate Point’s weekly newsletter
READ MORE: The latest climate change news from USA TODAY
Here’s what you need to know about the gas stove controversy:
What started this latest round of concern about gas stoves?
Cultural outbursts about gas stoves have been in the news for the past few years. This last round came January 9 when Richard Trumpka Jr., head of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said natural gas stoves are “a hidden danger” and unsafe products could be banned, a statement he later stepped back.
This came at the same time about 100 cities or counties, and three states, are deciding new building codes instead they either prohibit the installation of natural gas connections in homes and newly constructed buildings or provide incentives not to do so.
FACT CHECK:False Claim Biden Administration Wants to Ban Gas Stoves
Note that this does not affect most Americans. Most surveys indicate that 35 to 40% of stoves in the United States use natural gas. In general, natural gas is used much less in the southeast of the country while it is more common in the west, midwest, and northeast.
Are gas stoves harmful to your health?
They can be. Poorly ventilated gas stoves can cause health problems inside the home. or Harvard The study, published in June, found that the natural gas contained varying levels of volatile organic chemicals and was more likely than previously thought to be leaking. A study in December found that using a gas stove was linked to a increased risk of current asthma in children.
Natural gas is methane. When burned it produces small but distinct amounts nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants. Exposure indoors – when there is no adequate ventilation – is associated with more severe asthma.
- The problem: Two-thirds to three-quarters of Americans rarely turn on their stove vent fans, said Rob Jackson, a professor of energy and the environment at Stanford University who has studied the topic for several years.
- Even worse: Many homes and apartments either do not have adequate stove ventilation or have fans that simply recirculate air through a filter, which does not remove nitrogen oxide.
How can I make my gas stove safer?
Turn on the fan or open a window every time you use your stove.
“If you vent, you can dramatically reduce emissions to levels that are unlikely to cause significant harm,” said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Make sure the fan opens to the outside, not just a filter that blows back into the kitchen.
Children who lived in homes that always used ventilation when their gas stove was on were 36% less likely to be diagnosed with asthma, said Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist at Oregon State University.
If you don’t have a fan, open a window or door when you cook, Bernstein said.
More:What is the alternative? What you need to know about induction cookers
Are gas stoves harmful to climate change?
Yes. And that’s a big reason why there’s an effort in some areas to phase out natural gas from new buildings.
Natural gas, otherwise known as methane, has been the fastest-growing fossil fuel over the past decade as it largely replaced coal. While it produces less carbon dioxide than coal, burning methane still isn’t even close to carbon.
“The burning of natural gas contributed 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide pollution annually,” Jackson said.
Carbon dioxide and methane are the primary greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
His research found that 40 million gas stoves in the United States annually produce pollution equal to the emissions of 500,000 cars.
Natural Gas Bans: Where and Why
“Banning gas stoves” refers primarily to trying to stop new construction from natural gas pipelines, not removing existing stoves.
This is intended to help move the country away from fossil fuels. A new building with natural gas pipelines means decades more use of fossil fuels, just as the country is trying to move away from these fuels and toward all-electric construction.
“No one is breaking into homes and ripping gas stoves out of people’s kitchens,” Jackson said.
- California: 73 cities and counties have adopted building codes that require new residential and commercial buildings to be built all-electric. Some of them have carves for commercial kitchens so they can still use methane stoves.
- Elsewhere in the US: Another 26 cities and three states – Maryland, Colorado and Washington – have building codes either in place or planned that will require new construction to be all-electric.
- Reaction – a ban on bans: Has a EFFORTS being guided in part by natural gas industry to pre-empt these building codes. So far 20 states have passed such legislation, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
More:No more kitchen fires: Cities are banning natural gas at home to save the planet
Leave a Reply