Healthy Air

Gas industry used big tobacco tactics to undermine science and fend off health regulation

A new report documents how the gas industry employed the same tactics used by big tobacco to undermine public health research and fend off gas stove regulation.

Clean air

Ivan Radic | CC-BY-2.0

A new report from the Climate Investigations Center documents how the gas industry employed the same tactics used by big tobacco to undermine public health research into the negative health impacts of cooking with gas and fend off federal regulation.

A growing body of research finds gas stove use emits health-harming pollutants inside homes and – alarmingly – gas stoves leak toxic chemicals and carcinogens even while off.

While this research has gained public attention recently, especially after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a request for information regarding chronic hazards associated with gas stoves in March, research finding negative health impacts from cooking with gas stretches back over 50 years. 

For example, Dr. Carl Shy, featured in an NPR story on the new report, published research in 1970 linking higher rates of respiratory ailments in children that lived in a house with a gas stove. Those findings threatened the gas industry’s plans for aggressive expansion at the time. Then as now, the gas industry heavily promoted gas stoves as a way to convince more Americans to connect to, or stay connected to, gas utility service.

In response to the health research, the gas industry hired the same scientists, consultants, and public relations firms as the tobacco industry. Its campaign helped shape public opinion and stop initial inquiries into gas stove regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and CPSC in the early 1980’s.

The industry continues to use similar tactics: attacking research, funding lawsuits, and hiring influencers to create confusion as to health risks of cooking with gas. To this day, there are no federal standards for indoor air quality or health regulations of gas stoves. 

U.S. PIRG and our allies are calling on the CPSC to respond to its request for information with action, adopting mandatory performance standards for gas stoves, placing warning labels on gas stoves, and creating accessible public-education materials about the emissions from gas stoves and effective ways to reduce or eliminate them.

See the Campaign

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