There was a major grassroots uproar last year, when it appeared that new US government environmental standards would spell the end of the gas cook stove – the trad fave of pro chefs and home cooks alike. The verdict is in and gas stoves are safe – for now…
Gas stoves and ovens have been the defacto standard in restaurant,
hotel and other commercial kitchens since ‘time immemorial’…
Gas lovers are saying the government heard them. But it’s just as likely that gas stoves are not the polluters users feared they would be branded.
The Biden Administration last week published new energy efficiency standards for for gas cooking appliances. And it appears that most existing gas cookers will meet the new emission limits. Some may require retro-fits. Only a very few, we’re told, will have to be replaced.
“[The Department of Energy] (DOE)’s analysis shows that 97 percent of gas stove shipments already meet the new standards,” the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) revealed in a news release. “Manufacturers will have until January 31, 2028, to modify the small share of models that do not already meet the standards.”
What a relief for serious cooks all over America who love cooking with gas!
About this time last year, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr.told Bloomberg News that gas stoves were a real concern for his office: “This is a hidden hazard,” Trumka said. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”
The response from hotel, restaurant and commercial cooks, as well as serious home cooks, was characterized as a ‘firestorm’ by more than one food writer.
A Food&Wine.com story at the time reported: “Though the debate over the hazards of gas stoves has been quietly rumbling for some time, Trumka’s comments were the ones to finally set off a political firestorm. Republican political leaders even called the potential ban a ‘recipe for disaster‘. The debate even caused a spike in search traffic on Google, specifically for ‘gas stove’ and ‘gas stove ban US’.”
Other voices chimed in at that time, pointing out that gas cooking appliances not only vented noxious fumes into the air, through mandatory exhaust vents, but could leak fumes and unburned methane gas into homes. Exhaust hoods are ‘on’ at all times in commercial kitchens, but not necessarily in home cooking environments.
A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health backed up that claim, finding that, “Indoor gas stove use for cooking is associated with an increased risk of current asthma among children.” And, “…12.7 percent of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use.”
And that was on top of the multitudes who warned that gas cooking appliances were probably adding significantly to the global greenhouse gas load.
I had a feeling the Consumer Product Safety people would come down on the side of gas stove lovers. And sidebar stories to the announcement last week give prominent to recommendations from the environmental authorities suggesting that much can still be done to improve gas burner efficiency and ventilation systems in gas-fired kitchens.
So… The future of gas stoves and ovens seems secure. At least until the next round of consumer and environmental safety reviews comes along…
~ Maggie J.