I-TEAM: Gas stove debate continues to heat up

The debate over some states banning gas stoves is heating up all over the country.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 5:49 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The debate over some states banning gas stoves is heating up all over the country.

One medical study recently created controversy pointing to health risks associated with gases from the stove and indoor air quality.

The I-TEAM went to our local medical community to get their take. From a lung cancer doctor to a pediatric pulmonologist that deals with childhood asthma. The I-TEAM down our local expert opinions and found if you’re concerned and want to make the switch a new rebate program will pay some of you to do so.

Those savings come from the Inflation Reduction Act. Congress passed it in 2022, but consumers can now start cashing in. From rebates to rolling monthly energy costs – we break down what the savings really look like and investigate the health risk.

A scientific report from Stanford University found gas stoves are leaking dangerous gases into countless homes everywhere. The peer-reviewed study really took off like wildfire last year.

From Scientific American…to NPR… the New York Times. It found gas stoves leak gases whether they are on or off.

Including benzene, a known carcinogen. Methane is tied to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. And Nitrous Dioxide, an air pollutant that can exacerbate childhood asthma and other conditions.

In the simplest terms, researchers found “natural gas cooking appliances release methane primarily through small, persistent leaks and Nitrous Dioxide, while in use, damaging the climate and degrading indoor air quality.”

It didn’t matter if the stove was old or brand new, the research concluded the presence of leaks from the gas stove was “consistent”

“I am concerned.” Dr, Sunil Kapoor is a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

“I think the question is an important one and it relates more to not so much gas stoves, but indoor air quality. There have been studies that have demonstrated an increase in air pollutants coming from gas stoves. And there are also studies that confirm that worsening indoor air quality can worsen asthma. But as Dr. Kapoor stresses, there are other triggers that can have a greater impact on childhood asthma more so than gas stoves such as smoking in the home or outdoor pollution as well.”

“So gas stoves is part of that, not necessarily the driving factor, but it can be part of that. So I would be very concerned in a child who is very high risk for asthma, that is with a strong family history or a very allergic tendency, as well as living in in a smaller environment with poor ventilation. That’s the population that I’d be a little bit more concerned about,” said Kapoor.

The I-TEAM also went to the Georgia Cancer Center to sit down with Dr. Giri Raval.

“Pollution of which methane is a part of it has been independently linked to risks of development of lung cancer. Now, it could be that it’s because of myriad of other gases that contribute to industrial pollution and not just methane,” said Raval.

Raval was not ready to tell local consumers it’s time to stop using gas stoves or to buy other options. He found the study’s size was limited.

“I don’t think that there is any cancer-causing agents at this time based on this study. I don’t think that there is any association. And so I wouldn’t be I wouldn’t be worried about getting one yet,” said Rvaal.

Just yet. But individual states like California and New York are already considering bans on gas stoves in new construction. Nationwide, 40 million Americans cook with gas.

Rich Trumka, the commissioner for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who recently called the appliance toxic, recently tweeted this to clarify the agency’s position: “CPSC isn’t coming for anyone’s gas stoves. Regulations apply to new products. For Americans who CHOOSE to switch from gas to electric, there is support available. Congress passed the inflation reduction act which includes an $840 rebate.”

Locally the I-TEAM found 35% of the 4 million homes in Georgia have a gas stove.

Across the river in South Carolina, about 19% of the state’s 2 million homes use natural gas for cooking. Joel Rosenberg, program manager of Special Projects, Rewiring America, “it’s a culture war. Well, look, you could say we’re coming for all of your fossil fuel stuff. But it’s, it’s going to benefit you.”

Rosenberg is with the non-profit Rewiring America. The group is working to educate consumers on electrifying everything and how they can save money doing so thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which was the largest clean energy investment in our country’s history.

“We’re trying to get people who are fueled by fossil fuels, to consider upgrading their stuff, because all these machines really are upgrades like, you know, the electric stoves that you might remember from your grandma’s house have gotten much better, just like all technology has gotten better. And we think it’s going to take off because people are going to finally say, yeah, it is kind of crazy to burn this toxic substance in my kitchen, next to my kid,” he said.

So what can homeowners expect by way of savings? Upfront discounts, rebates, and tax credits rolling out later this year, not only for gas stoves but for eventually cars, water heaters, HVAC units, and other appliances, regardless of income levels.

“I do think it’s gonna take off. I think that there are lots of people in Georgia and the Southeast, generally who already live in all-electric homes, and they have no problems with their homes. They’re gonna say, yeah, it doesn’t make sense to keep paying, you know, for natural gas or for gasoline, where the money leaves our economy, as opposed to building renewable power than just powering everything and keeping the money local, the sun shines locally, the power can be used locally,” he said.

So if you own a gas stove and remain on the fence, keep in mind you can still use your air fryer, crockpot, and Insta Pot if you’re not ready to consider making a permanent change.