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To [Members of Congress]:
We write to request a congressional hearing to investigate the health risks and dangers of gas stoves used in the home. As organizations, individual doctors and nurses, public health professionals, and consumer protection advocates dedicated to promoting public health, we are concerned about the negative health impacts resulting from the routine use of gas stoves in more than a third of homes across America.
More than thirty years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) asked the EPA if it should be concerned about the impact of an invisible toxic gas— nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emitted from gas stoves. The EPA responded that the pollutant could have harmful health effects, and CPSC should investigate the concentrations of NO2 occurring in America’s kitchens. Since that time, the EPA has continued to study the impacts of NO2. Most recently, in 2016 the EPA stated that short-term exposure to NO2 has a causal relationship with asthma attacks, particularly in children, and likely leads to the development of asthma. Yet neither agency has acted to regulate gas stove pollution, and the appliance remains common in more than 40 million homes throughout America. The US’s inaction on developing health-protective standards for NO2 based on the latest evidence is in contrast to other countries, such as Canada, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Canada recently revised down its indoor NO2 guideline. Additionally, the WHO recently revised NO2 guidelines down by a staggering factor of four. The WHO guidelines are applicable to indoor and outdoor NO2 and find that health impacts can occur at very low levels of exposure.
Gas stove pollution does not affect everyone equally. Populations most at risk include children, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults. In fact, children living in a home with a gas stove have a 42% increased risk of asthma and a 24% increased risk of being diagnosed with asthma by a doctor. Gas stoves also pose a health equity issue because people of color and lower-income households are disproportionately burdened by air pollutant exposure inside their homes, influenced by smaller unit size, more residents per home, inadequate ventilation, and improper use of a stove or oven for supplemental heat. These factors—compounded by disparities in outdoor air pollution and overall asthma burden—put our most vulnerable community members at high risk of negative health outcomes related to gas stove pollution.
In addition to the health risks, the extraction and combustion of methane gas used to power gas stoves contributes to the climate crisis, which in turn endangers public health even further. The changing climate will result in increases in average temperature, changes in precipitation patterns leading to flooding events and drought, and more frequent and intense hurricanes, wildfires, and poor air quality days. We can already see evidence of these changes today, as well as the resulting increased incidence of vector-borne disease and food- and water-related illness, impacts to mental health status, and increased risk of injury, disease, and death from these extremes.
The evidence is clear and mounting: gas stoves are hazardous to health and bad for our climate. As experts in the health field, we are calling for a congressional hearing to bring to light the extent of the problem and to explore regulatory actions necessary to protect the public.