Coming clean about gas stoves will help consumers make better choices

Buyers should be given information about the effects on indoor air before they have a new gas stove delivered to their kitchen.

SHARE Coming clean about gas stoves will help consumers make better choices
A gas-burning stove is offered for sale at a home improvement store on Jan. 12 in Chicago.

A gas-burning stove is offered for sale at a home improvement store on Jan. 12 in Chicago.

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Information about the health effects of gas stoves needs to get on the front burner in Illinois.

The Legislature has been debating a bill that would require an educational label to be affixed to each gas stove sold in the state explaining the health risks of pollutants from gas oven and range combustion. The measure needs to get out of the House this week to arrive in the Senate in time for action in this session. Backers say they are close to having enough votes in the House for the bill, which made it out of the Rules Committee on Tuesday.

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Emissions from gas stoves include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, unburned natural gas and fine particulates. Exposure can cause respiratory problems and has been associated with causing or worsening asthma. But many people don’t know that. They should be alerted before they have a new stove delivered to their kitchen.

Consumers would still be free to purchase natural gas stoves, which are generally more popular in Illinois than elsewhere in the country, but they would be fully informed if they do so.

“This is about empowering consumers to have information,” said Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “They are not getting the information from the stores.”

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An educational label on gas stoves also might get people to take a second look at today’s electric and induction stoves, which are more home-chef-friendly than in the past. It’s a wiser approach than attempting an outright ban. On Monday, a three-judge federal appeals court panel in San Francisco that included two Donald Trump appointees tossed out a measure adopted by Berkeley, California, to prohibit natural gas appliances in new construction and eventually phase out gas from most existing buildings.

Better informed consumers make better choices. The Legislature should make sure this bill gets passed.

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