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

Media Contacts

BOSTON— 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 Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director, MASSPIRG Education Fund. “Without guidance at the point of sale, customers are too often unaware of the risks and preventative steps they can take.”

This 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.

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.

“Far too many people – including clinicians – are unaware of the childhood asthma risks associated with gas stove pollution, and therefore are not taking steps to protect their and their patient’s health,” said Dr. Brita Lundberg, a board member at Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility. “As a physician, I have advocated that state and national medical societies encourage clinicians to share with patients the simple steps they can take, like improving ventilation, to protect their health when cooking with gas. Retailers can likewise be a key public health resource by sharing this critical information with customers.”

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.

“We’re calling on retailers to provide educational materials and train sales staff to answer questions about indoor air pollution and gas stoves, including proper ventilation,” said Cummings. “It’s an opportunity for big box chains to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

Retailers may also provide educational materials and handouts on the indoor air quality benefits of cooking with electric options, ensure that brick and mortar stores have induction cooktops available for display and demonstrations, and promote available incentives and rebates.

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. Massachusetts offers a $500 rebate for the purchase of an induction stove, additional Massachusetts clean energy rebates and incentives can be found here.


About the MASSPIRG Education Fund

MASSPIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.