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BOSTON -- The typical gas stove, when not properly vented, can produce air pollution levels indoors that exceed outdoor air standards in just a few minutes. Yet millions across the country rely on gas stoves for cooking. Studies show that many households don’t have exhaust hoods or don’t use them regularly, meaning their stoves are not vented appropriately. To protect their customers, retailers should provide adequate information to inform consumers of the risks and cleaner alternatives, like induction cooking.
Following a recent study from Stanford about gas stove pollution, national consumer group U.S. PIRG Education Fund is calling on Best Buy to take a leadership role in the industry, and better educate consumers shopping for new stoves. As the third largest appliance retailer in the U.S. with over 1,000 store locations nationwide, the company has a large reach. By placing warning labels on gas stoves, Best Buy could dramatically raise public awareness and help Americans avoid indoor air pollution. The consumer group has delivered 4,644 petitions collected from the public in support of the initiative.
“Especially when it comes to a costly, long-term decision like purchasing a kitchen appliance, consumers deserve to have all the information that’s out there,” said Matt Casale, director of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s environment campaigns. “Cooking with gas stoves often emits harmful, unvented pollution directly into American homes. Retailers, like Best Buy, can help protect their customers by warning them of the potential dangers and health impacts of gas stoves sold in their stores and presenting them with cleaner options.”
Burning gas for cooking releases carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), formaldehyde and particulate matter into the home. Exposure to these pollutants can cause asthma to develop, especially in children, and worsen symptoms for people with preexisting respiratory illnesses. Running a stove with poor ventilation can lead to levels of NO2 in particular that surpass EPA standards for outdoor air in mere minutes, and studies show that many households frequently don’t use ventilation at all.
“There are ways that families can protect themselves from the potential health impacts of gas stoves, like using proper ventilation while cooking, or switching to safer electric or induction alternatives,” said Erin Skibbens, PIRG Education Fund campaign associate. “But first, they need to be aware that these solutions exist.”
U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s new campaign asserts that Best Buy should institute a point of sale educational program about gas stoves that describe the health risks of combusting gas indoors without proper ventilation, as well as educate their sales force to be able to talk about the issue with customers.
The campaign also calls on Best Buy to adjust their marketing material to emphasize the benefits of electric and induction cooktops, which would also help accomplish the company’s goal of helping customers reduce their own carbon emissions by 20% by 2030. The most recent study estimates that gas stoves annually emit an amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, equivalent to the carbon dioxide pollution of half a million cars. Cooking with electric and induction technology offers a healthier, safer, more energy efficient and better environmental choice for consumers, as electric and induction cooktops are compatible with renewable energy.
“Best Buy is a trusted brand built on introducing their customers to the best and newest technology. It makes sense for the country’s third largest retailer to take the lead on educating the public on health dangers posed by gas stoves. Americans deserve and want to be given crucial information about the health and climate impacts of products before they bring them into their homes,” said Skibbens.
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