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Bill passed for pollutant-warning labels on gas stoves in California

Robert Besser
17 May 2024

SACRAMENTO, California: This week, California's state Assembly approved a proposal requiring the label on gas stoves or ranges made or sold online after 2024 or sold in a store after 2025 to have a label warning users about pollutants they can release that have been linked to respiratory illnesses.

Supporters of the bill, which passed primarily along party lines and with no debate and now heads to the state Senate for approval, say it is necessary to help address childhood asthma and other respiratory problems.

However, its opponents said it is unnecessary and that the state should promote better building ventilation to improve air quality.

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, a Democrat representing part of Santa Cruz County, said, "Despite the growing body of evidence about the health risks of gas stoves, most of this is not common knowledge. This bill will help the purchaser make more informed decisions about gas stoves and oven appliances."

The label will aim to warn users that breathing in large concentrations of chemicals, such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and benzene, could "exacerbate preexisting respiratory illnesses and increase the risk of developing leukemia and asthma, especially in children."

It will also state that ventilation can lower the risk of exposure to these chemicals.

California voters already approved a law in the 1980s requiring warning labels on gas stoves and other products if they expose people to significant amounts of chemicals that cause cancer, congenital disabilities, and reproductive harm.

In response, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, which opposes the California bill, said some 40 percent of U.S. households cook using gas as a heat source.

"Adding yet another label to gas cooking products does not address the overall concern of indoor air quality while cooking in an email. All forms of cooking, regardless of heat source, generate air pollutants, especially at high temperatures," the association's spokesperson Jill Notini said.

However, Dr. Lisa Patel, a pediatrician and executive director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, said that there is growing evidence that chemicals released by gas stoves can worsen symptoms for people with respiratory problems, such as asthma.

"We are going through another moment where something feels like an institution in our homes, and suddenly, we are being told that it is bad for our health. It is not because it was not bad for our health all along. It was just that we did not have the data before. We have the data now," Patel said.

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