NEW REPORT: Top retailers fail to warn shoppers about health risks of gas stove pollution

Media Contacts

LOS ANGELES— Despite mounting scientific evidence linking gas stove pollution to childhood asthma and known carcinogens, many sales associates at the country’s top retailers dismissed or downplayed concerns about this pollution during a recent “secret shopper” survey. 

Employees at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Best Buy were documented — for the second year in a row — failing to warn customers about the potential risks of cooking with gas, according to a new study. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund dispatched survey takers to 62 locations across 11 states to better understand what information consumers are getting at the point of sale. 

Topline findings of the resulting report, Gas stove omissions: Retailers are failing to warn consumers about the health risks of cooking with gas, include:

  • About 76% of surveyed sales associates at the nation’s top appliance stores flatly denied or expressed ignorance about the health risks of gas stoves.
  • Only one in five staff surveyed on the sales floors at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Best Buy locations had accurate information about the dangers of gas stove pollution.
  • Fifteen percent of sales staff recommended gas stoves over electric ranges or induction cooktops, even when the secret shopper voiced concerns about pollution.

“Retail giants have a responsibility to provide customers with the facts about the products they sell, including the health dangers associated with gas stove pollution and steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. Our surveys have repeatedly shown that’s not happening,” said Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG state director. “Without guidance at the point of sale, customers are too often unaware of the risks and preventative steps they can take.”

The second annual report on gas stoves follows a wave of news coverage about pollution from these common household appliances. Yet, despite the public discourse on the topic since the 2022 edition, the new report finds retailers still have not equipped sales staff to provide accurate information about the health risks of gas stove emissions.

In response to the lack of consumer education about the health impacts of cooking with gas, state Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) has introduced legislation that would require all gas stoves manufactured on or after January 2025 and sold in California to have a warning label detailing the health risks associated with pollutants emitted from gas stoves. 

“When we learn more about everyday appliances that could have harmful impacts on one’s health, it is so important to educate consumers about those harms, said Asm. Pellerin. “AB 2513 will make sure that consumers can make a fully-informed purchase or reduce their exposure to harmful gasses emitted from gas stoves and ovens.”

Researchers have known for decades about the potential dangers of gas stove emissions, which have been linked to childhood asthma and other health harms. In 2023, researchers at Stanford University published a groundbreaking study showing that when gas stoves produce elevated levels of benzene, that carcinogen can spread from the kitchen throughout homes and linger for hours. In recent years, health experts including the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association and American Lung Association have raised concerns about gas stove pollution, particularly for vulnerable populations. 

“Patients have the right to know that the fumes from gas stoves can trigger asthma,” said Mary L. Williams, MD, SF Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility board member. “As a physician, I can only educate my patients, but labels on appliances would allow every Californian to make an informed choice about their family’s health before purchasing a stove.” 

Health experts recommend that households with children or older adults, and those living with a lung disease, upgrade to electric or electric induction ranges, if possible. Also, when cooking with gas, use external ventilation, open a window, cook on the back burner and ensure that the home has functioning carbon monoxide detectors.

“Consumers deserve the truth when it comes to the dangers of cooking with gas stoves,” said Engstrom. “The kitchen should be a place of bonding – not a place where our families are exposed to toxic pollution that can make us sick.”

Shoppers will soon also have financial reasons to upgrade to electric cooking technology through the Inflation Reduction Act, which will offer hefty federal incentives on electric ranges and induction cooktops as well as incentives for wiring upgrades necessary.