Don’t Believe These Myths About Gas Stoves

Gas stoves are the latest innocuous item to become a symbol of the culture war due to rumors that they might be banned at some point in the future. But are gas stoves so bad for us? Will government agents come and take them away? And if health problems are real, are we doomed?

The government won’t come to take your gas stove

If you’ve been paying attention to the political controversy, you may have noticed how conservative figures are screaming about how they’re willing to physically defend their gas stoves from government interference.

I guess some people like hero fantasy where they can imagine grabbing their weapons to fight a glorious battle for the honor of their old Maytag. But in fact, even if gas stoves were banned, the ban does not work that way.

Like those old five-gallon flush toilets that oddly enough most politicians still yell about ? No one ever came and yanked them out of the bathrooms; regulations just called for toilets to use 1.6 gallons or less since 1994. Likewise, in 2012 light bulbs were required to use slightly less energy than before , causing incandescent light bulbs to mostly go out of the market. This one avoided the culture wars, at least to my knowledge. The lights in your home are probably all fluorescent and LED, although no one has come to forcibly pull out your old light bulbs.

Not even any regulations pending

This whole firestorm came to a head when a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in an interview that the CPSC plans to open a public comment period soon on how and if indoor air pollution from gas stoves should be regulated. This regulation could include things like warning labels on ovens or ventilation requirements when they are installed, but the participant also noted that “products that cannot be made safe can be banned.”

The head of the CPSC explained that there is no ban on the works and that the agency is “exploring new ways to address health risks,” including voluntary industry standards.

The link between gas stoves and health problems is real

So are gas stoves bad for us? Probably! Research has linked childhood asthma to growing up with a gas stove. However, the causal relationship has not been fully elucidated. First, children who breathe polluted indoor air from gas stoves are often exposed to large amounts of polluted outdoor air.

But we do know that gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter—all of which are considered indoor air pollutants. Cooking on electric and other stoves can also release particulate matter, which hints that ventilation for all types of cooking is probably a good idea. But we know that gas stoves pollute the air more than electric stoves.

All in all, there are good reasons to be concerned about the health effects of gas stoves . It’s not an emergency where you need to rip out the stove, but if you’re buying a new stove , you might want to consider electric or induction cookers.

There are ways to mitigate health problems

One thing that has gotten lost in the recent controversy is that gas stoves are not a take-or-leave proposition. If you own a gas stove and are worried about its health effects, there are things you can do to reduce the risk.

The biggest one is ventilation. Some ovens are installed with a hood above them, which sucks in air from under the stove and blows it out… somewhere. This is where you should find out what kind you have. Some blow the air out, while others simply blow it back into your face – perhaps after passing through a filter.

Ventilating the range hood from the outside is great if you can swing it around – it’s definitely something to consider if you’re renovating your kitchen. In the meantime, consider opening windows or using fans in the room for extra ventilation while you cook. (Some older houses have a fan built into the wall for this purpose.) If you don’t use a range hood because it’s loud and annoying, a quieter range hood might be a good investment.

Another way to deal with particulate matter in the kitchen is with an air purifier with a HEPA filter. This will remove particles from the air and they tend to operate quietly and unobtrusively.


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