Congress, the media, and the public have given significant attention to remarks this week by a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) indicating that the agency would be considering a federal ban on gas stoves due to their health effects. The suggestion of a ban on gas stoves has drawn comments from bipartisan policymakers in both chambers, and even the White House has weighed in against the prospect of a potential ban.
The CPSC is unlikely to ban gas stoves in the near future, although it has the authority to ban unreasonably dangerous products that cannot be made safe, and has done so with toxic substances in children’s products and other product categories in the past. A CPSC rulemaking on mandatory safety standards for gas stoves, however, is a possibility, and that process may drive the establishment of voluntary industry standards by a standards-setting body. Additionally, other federal and state regulators have recently sharpened their focus on indoor air quality and gas-powered appliances, for both health and environmental reasons. The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), for instance, is undertaking several activities related to indoor air quality. And the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) recently adopted a plan that would effectively prohibit the sale of gas-powered space and water heaters in California by 2030.
Particularly with regard to federal regulatory activity on gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances, potentially affected parties will have ample opportunities to help shape the outcome of any mandatory or voluntary product standards put in place or accepted by the CPSC, and to engage with other regulators. This alert provides an overview of recent and emerging legislative and regulatory activity related to indoor air pollution, focusing particularly on activity by the CPSC and EPA. Companies—both those with interests in gas stoves and those concerned with indoor air quality issues more broadly—should carefully follow indoor air quality developments, including in their interactions with regulators, given the increased focus on this area.