WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today led 11 Attorneys General in calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – the federal agency responsible for regulating the safety of US consumer products – to address the public health and safety dangers of gas stoves, highlighting the disparate negative impact on children and underserved, lower-income communities.
“District residents are entitled to carry out everyday tasks like cooking without risk to their health and well-being,” said AG Schwalb. “Gas stoves emit air pollutants that put people – particularly children – at risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Along with other State AGs, I urge the CPSC to develop uniform performance and ventilation standards for gas stoves and to increase consumer awareness about the health risks these appliances pose.”
- Gas stoves are used in about 40% of homes in the United States.
- They emit air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter that have been linked to respiratory illness, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and other health conditions at levels the EPA and World Health Organization have said are unsafe.
- Children are particularly susceptible; studies show that children who live in a home with a gas stove are 42% more likely to experience asthma symptoms.
- Nearly 13% of childhood asthma cases can be attributed to gas stoves.
- Gas stoves and their health risks are also an equity and environmental justice issue.
- Lower-income homes are at a higher risk of exposure to gas stove pollution because of smaller unit sizes, more people per home, old and unmaintained appliances, inadequate ventilation, home-heating via the gas stove, and lack of resources to upgrade to a new appliance.
- DC children in neighborhoods afflicted with poor housing conditions, including inadequate ventilation, have both higher asthma rates and asthma hospitalization rates than children in higher income areas.
In response to the CPSC’s request for information on gas stove hazards and potential solutions to those hazards, the coalition of Attorneys General provided the following recommendations:
- CPSC should develop uniform performance standards for gas stoves.
- Mandatory ventilation standards are needed to ensure an effective reduction of indoor pollutants, including an automatic ventilation mechanism for range hoods that vent to the outdoors.
- General performance and efficiency standards are also necessary, including emissions maximums for dangerous pollutants and sensors that alert users when pollutants reach unsafe concentrations.
- CPSC should work to increase consumer awareness of the health hazards associated with gas stoves so consumers can take steps to protect themselves.
- CPSC can increase consumer awareness by requiring warning labels on gas stoves to have more information on potential health risks and conducting public education campaigns to inform consumers on the health effects of gas stove emissions and the importance of external ventilation for these products.
Attorney General Schwalb was joined by the Attorneys General of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the City of New York.
The full letter is available here.
This comment letter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Lauren Cullum with input from Assistant Attorney General Brian Caldwell, under the supervision of Section Chief Argatonia Weatherington.
OAG’s Environmental Work
Over the last three years, OAG has worked to protect the environment and address persistent local environmental problems, including those that disproportionately impact low-income communities. OAG filed suit against Ward 5 businesses that repeatedly spilled toxic oil into District streets and waterways and forced a landlord to clean up toxic lead paint that put children at risk. OAG also recovered $2.5 million from a power plant that discharged oil into the Potomac River and recovered $52 million from Monsanto, which produced, promoted, and sold toxic PCBs that damaged the District’s waters and other natural resources. OAG also works closely with the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to coordinate and implement Anacostia River cleanup efforts and investigate and assess damages to these natural resources. Since 2014, OAG has recovered over $60 million to promote environmental justice in the District.