“Burning Fossil Fuels in Buildings Endangers Health and Well-Being of New Yorkers”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 21, 2023
Albany, NY — Today, the American Lung Association, the New York State Public Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility – NY, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, other health organizations and a growing list of individual health professionals called for Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature to enact the All Electric Building Act (S562A/A920A) during this year’s budget to end the use of gas (and other fossil fuels) in new construction, starting with new permits at the beginning of 2024. The urgent appeal for action comes as the Joint Assembly/Senate Committee on Environment/Agriculture/Housing prepares to tackle those aspects of the NYS budget Tuesday afternoon.
The letter, signed by a growing list of approximately a dozen leading health organizations and more than fifteen health professionals (list in formation) states that: “Although policy makers and the public, influenced by fossil fuel industry misinformation, have long overlooked the serious public health problems associated with burning gas (and other fossil fuels) in the home, the facts are well-documented and the need for urgent action to protect the health of New Yorkers cannot be more clear.”
Among the key findings that the trusted health advocacy organizations and health professionals cite:
- Health risks inside homes due to gas stove pollution are well-documented in numerous studies.
- Burning fossil fuels in the home produces toxic indoor pollutants including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM2.5). Exposure to elevated pollution emissions from gas stoves can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma and is linked to other health risks like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and harmful reproductive impacts.
- New peer-reviewed research demonstrates that almost 19% of all cases of childhood asthma in New York State can be linked to air pollution from having a gas stove in the home.
- The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest medical society, recognizes that cooking with a gas stove increases household air pollution and the risk of childhood asthma.
- Numerous studies over the past 40 years have shown that indoor air pollution from gas stoves can reach levels that would exceed the standards for outdoor air pollution, and indoor concentrations are often much higher than health-protective guidelines set by the World Health Organization.
- Harvard research shows that gas from stoves contains multiple potentially harmful chemical compounds, including benzene, a carcinogen for which there is no safe level of exposure.
Additionally, the trusted health advocacy organizations and health professionals pointed to the “outside the home” health effects of burning fossil fuels in homes, including:
- New York’s buildings currently emit 43,000 tons of NOx pollution, more than buildings in any other state. Outdoors, NOx leads to the formation of ozone “smog,” and New York consistently violates health-protective air quality standards for smog set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Ozone smog exposure has been linked to increases in respiratory conditions and even premature mortality.
- Health Groups and Pros for All-Electric Bldg Act rel. ltr. 3.21.23
- Outdoor PM2.5 pollution from burning fuels in our buildings led to an estimated 1,300 early deaths in New York in 2017, which translates to roughly $14.4 billion in health impact costs in 2017.
- PM2.5 exposure is associated with dementia, decreased IQ in children, and poor pregnancy outcomes (stillbirth, preterm birth, and low-birth weight), with Black mothers especially at risk. Exposure to PM2.5 poses the highest risk to children, the elderly, and people who are pregnant and have other chronic conditions.
- People of color in New York are exposed to 2.6 times as much outdoor PM2.5 pollution from residential gas appliances as whites.
According to the American Lung Association’s 2022 State of the Air Report, New York again ranked in the top 25 metropolitan areas in the country for days with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
“The consequences of breathing in harmful air pollution on lung health are well documented. As New Yorkers look to continue to rebuild post-pandemic, let’s make sure their health remains as vibrant as their future by supporting provisions of the All Electric Building Act that will end the use of dirty fossil fuels in new construction,” said Trevor Summerfield, American Lung Association Director of Advocacy for New York.
“My career in pediatrics has made me deeply aware of the impact of both the outdoor and home environments on the health of children. The data on each is now overwhelmingly clear. We owe it to this and future generations of children to expedite the transition of our buildings away from fossil fuels. The All Electric Building Act will help clear the air, indoors and out, and Concerned Health Professionals of New York urges its passage,” said Larysa Dyrszka, M.D.
The letter concludes, “Based on all we now know from the robust scientific evidence about the damaging impacts of indoor combustion of fossil fuels on New Yorkers’ health, as health organizations and health professionals, we are united in urgently calling on the Governor and State Legislature to immediately enact the All-Electric Building Act (S562A/A920A) during this year’s budget to end the use of gas (and other fossil fuels) in new construction, starting with new permits at the beginning of 2024.”