PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A debate has ignited over the nationwide push to ban gas stoves in new homes and businesses.
While it appears there will be no federal ban anytime soon, some places in Oregon have already started banning gas stoves. Eugene recently became the first city in Oregon to ban gas stoves in new buildings, while Multnomah County health officials have recommended the transition away from gas stoves.
Dr. Melanie Plaut, who is with Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility — the group leading the charge, told KOIN 6 that natural gas is mostly methane and that’s what is burning while cooking or heating with a gas stove. She says when methane burns it creates nitrogen dioxide which is harmful to health, especially young kids.
In the time it takes to fry an egg on a gas stove, Dr. Plaut says the NO2 levels in the home will exceed what is allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency for the outdoors.
NO2, when released outside, is strictly regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, but Plaut points out that the EPA is pretty hands-off when it comes to inside.
According to Dr. Plaut, there is a concern for lung health as some studies have shown gas stoves can cause asthma in young kids.
“The recognition that we were going to have to make people understand the health risks of gas stoves, so they wouldn’t fall for the industry … selling gas as the best way to cook which has been going on since the 1930s,” said Dr. Plaut.
She says studies show carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other organic compounds are released when you switch your stove on. She also added that methane has been shown to be contaminated with other chemicals such as benzine which is a known carcinogen.
“The same things in car exhaust are the same things that are created when you burn the gas in your stove,” Dr. Plaut explained.
Alexander Hoen Saric from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has no proceedings to ban gas stoves. He said in part, “CPSC is researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks.”
“CPSC is also actively engaged in strengthening voluntary safety standards for gas stoves,” Hoen Saric added. “And later 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.”
Critics of the gas stove ban have said those studies Dr. Plautt mentioned are lacking context. They have also said that pollutants in a well-ventilated kitchen are negligible.