Chart: Here’s why everyone is freaking out over gas stoves

The performative outrage over a nonexistent ban on gas stoves is overblown. The clear proof of the harmful health impacts of fossil gas isn’t.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

Gas stoves became the main character on Twitter this week. The current uproar was kicked off last week by the publication of new peer-reviewed research that attributed nearly 13 percent of all asthma cases in children in the U.S. to indoor air pollution caused by the burning of fossil gas in kitchens. In some states, the percentage is higher, as shown in the following chart. The study added to a robust body of past research documenting the negative health effects of gas stoves, which are used in roughly one-third of U.S. homes.

In states where gas stoves are more prevalent, a higher percentage of asthma cases can be attributed to the stoves, the study determined. California and Illinois have some of the highest shares of homes with gas stoves in the country — 70 and 67 percent, respectively — while Florida has the smallest share at 8 percent. The chart shows the nine states for which relevant data was available.

For childhood asthma, exposure to gas-stove pollution is similar to being exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Brady Seals, who co-authored the report and works in the Carbon-Free Buildings program at RMI, a nonprofit focused on the energy transition. (Canary Media is an independent affiliate of RMI.) Gas stoves release pollutants and volatile organic compounds, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and benzene; all these pollutants are linked to increased respiratory damage, and benzene has been linked to increased cancer risk.

Back on Twitter, the discourse quickly shifted from public health to right-wing outrage over the nonexistent threat of people’s appliances being seized by government thugs. The trigger was Consumer Protection Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. telling Bloomberg that any option is on the table” in terms of regulating gas stoves, as they represent a hidden hazard.” His comments dominated headlines — and instigated a premature freakout from some, including Republican lawmakers.

The chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Alexander Hoehn-Saric, quickly jumped in to allay the fears of gas-stove lovers: To be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves, and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre chimed in to clarify that President Biden also does not support a ban on gas stoves.

So people can rest assured that no one is coming for their gas stoves. But for those interested in reducing indoor air pollution at home, there are ways to do it. The good news? This risk is preventable and can be mitigated with electric stoves,” said RMI’s Seals. The Inflation Reduction Act offers incentives to help people buy electric induction stoves. And if you’re stuck with a gas stove for now, you can reduce exposure and asthma risk with good ventilation — so use your range hood and open a window.

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Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.