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Our Gas Stoves: “Stylish Package” or Hidden Danger?


“Cooking With Natural Gas: Precise Control in A Stylish Package.”

So begins the Natural Gas Association’s Web page on gas stoves, followed by the hook: “Builders know that a kitchen can sell a house. But smart builders know that natural gas appliances can sell the kitchen.”

This is misleading marketing.

In a 45-minute lunchtime Zoom “Climate Action Call” on August 25, Mothers Out Front and special guest Dr. Michael Martin, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented a powerful counterargument to this sleek but misleading marketing campaign, sharing scientific evidence of gas stoves’ harm to people – especially children.

The presenters provided a menu of low- and no-cost ways to reduce this harm, and facilitated action steps to educate others and advocate for change.

Dr. Michael J. Martin, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility National, explained that the air pollutants produced by the gas stoves in about one-third of American households closely resemble those found in car exhaust:

  • Nitrogen dioxide, which negatively affects brain function
  • Carbon monoxide, which even in small quantities can cause fatigue and reduce cognitive function
  • Fine and ultrafine particulate matter, which can contribute to heart disease and stroke risk.

According to one expert, children who live in a home with a gas stove are 42% more likely to have asthma.

So, do we all need to replace our gas stoves with electric or convection ovens? The costs can be high, and renters don’t have the ability to make these changes in their homes.

The good news is that we can significantly reduce the negative impacts of our gas stoves with simple, low-cost and no-cost actions. These include:

  • Running an exhaust fan or opening a window while cooking
  • Using small electric devices such as electric kettles and toaster ovens instead of the stove when possible
  • Using a portable induction cook plate, which can be placed on the countertop for cooking, and stored in a cabinet when not in use

Not only can we reduce the harm of gas stoves in our own homes, but we can also take simple steps to make a difference in local and national policy. Dr. Martin compared indoor air pollution from gas stoves to passive smoking: both were believed harmless, and later found to present significant health risks. In both cases, there was a lag between the scientific finding of harm and action to reduce the risk.

Here are three things you can do today to promote action and reduce harm:

  • Sign the letter to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), demanding that this national commission educate the public about the known health risks of gas stoves.
  • Share this letter with your friends and family, before the signing deadline of Tuesday, September 6.
  • Ask your local library to put “induction cooking kits” into their lending libraries. Some recommended talking points: food education, extra burners for family events, and asthma reduction. (At least one participant in the August 25 Action Call has already received a positive response to this suggestion from their local public library!)

Want to learn more? Here are some additional resources:

An induction plug-in cooking demonstration video from Mothers Out Front

Consumer Reports story on rebates for switching to electric appliances

Join Us in Climate Action!

Join Mothers Out Front on Thursday, September 15, 12:00-12:45 pm to take action for a livable climate! No prior experience or knowledge is necessary—Mothers Out Front organizers will provide the background and tools needed during the event. Register here.

Erica B. Lindamood is a volunteer with Mothers Out Front in Cambridge.