It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Gas Stoves

These cumbersome, hazardous home appliances no longer worth the trouble.

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Pan of rice cooking on gas stovetop
Photo: Shane N. Cotee (Shutterstock)

Like lead paint and asbestos, the use of gas stoves in American homes might someday be seen as a marker of a bygone era, a comically dangerous amenity we coexisted with for decades before appreciating just how dangerous it can be. And that day might be coming sooner rather than later, thanks to a new announcement by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about the dangers posed by gas ranges in home kitchens.

In an interview with Bloomberg, CPSC commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said that a potential ban on gas stoves nationwide was “on the table.” The statement came on the heels of a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that links a whopping 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the U.S. to the use of gas stoves in the home. The appliance is what Trumka calls a “hidden hazard.”

“Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,” Trumka told Bloomberg.

Gas stove bans in the United States

There are already some state and regional bans on gas stoves around the country, most notably in California, where no new constructions (as of 2020) are allowed to install gas stoves and must instead opt for electric appliances. However, this ban doesn’t apply retroactively to stoves already in homes and commercial businesses, so millions of Californians are unaffected by the ban. New York City has similar laws on the books preventing natural gas hookups in new construction buildings.

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In his interview with Bloomberg, Trumka insinuates that bans may become more sweeping and all-encompassing in the future, but also notes that bans aren’t the only way the commission might attempt to reduce or eliminate gas stove usage. He also mentions the possibility of “setting standards on emissions from the appliances.”

None of this would happen right away, of course, particularly since lawmakers can pass laws that prevent the prohibition of natural gas—almost as though, I don’t know, those lawmakers’ campaigns are funded by powerful lobbies or something. The appliance manufacturers, for their part, simply encourage adequate ventilation when using a gas stove to reduce indoor air pollution, which is an unsurprising stance from companies faced with the prospect of shifting their entire business model away from a core product.

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Gas stoves vs. electric stoves

There is a culinary argument to be made for gas stoves, of course: the open flame is more immediately customizable in its level of heat and intensity, allowing for minute temperature adjustments to achieve precise results. The stove also heats up faster using an open flame than an electric heat coil, and the sleek design of some modern electric ranges is so subtle that it’s sometimes hard to tell whether the stove is turned on at all. But these advantages are hardly material for the average home cook, and it’s safe to say that most of the people living in the 40% of American homes with gas stoves fit squarely into the “average home cook” demographic.

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Besides, just because I can get a nice sear with a gas range, is that advantage worth the risk we present to ourselves, our (increasingly asthmatic!) children, our homes, and our environment every day by streaming natural gas directly into our kitchens? However you answer that question might soon be a moot point, as the choice could be out of our hands in the years to come. Gas ranges could go the way of lead paint, and you don’t hear anyone pining away for that.