Gas stoves have been in the news a lot over the last year. If you cook with a gas stove, this post will help you understand the ways it can impact indoor air quality and what you can do to lower the risks.
While the information relating to health risks around gas stoves isn’t new, many people are just learning about it for the first time. A report released in 2020 by the Rocky Mountain Institute, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mothers Out Front, and the Sierra Club summarized 2 decades of research and found that gas stoves are a big contributor to indoor air pollution.
The report’s key findings include:
- Gas stoves release several hazardous pollutants, notably nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
- Homes with gas stoves have nitrogen dioxide concentrations 50 – 400% higher than homes with electric stoves. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, even in the short term and at low levels, can cause respiratory effects.
- For children, living in a home with a gas stove increases their risk of having asthma by 42%.
- Lower-income households may be at higher risk of exposure to gas stove pollution.
- While ventilation is important to managing the immediate risk posed by gas stove pollution, the report finds that it cannot be relied upon as the sole mitigation strategy.
- Levels of NO2 indoors can reach nearly 100x the EPA level for long-term outdoor exposure.
Another concern is the release of particulate matter. While cooking on all stove types can produce particulate matter that can cause respiratory issues, cooking with gas produces PM2.5, some of the most dangerous sized particles.
In addition to the 2020 report, a study released in December found that almost 13% of childhood asthma can be attributed to gas stoves (PMC9819315) and a Stanford study released in June 2023 also found the carcinogen, benzene, among the pollutants emitted from stoves. This study found that benzene levels from gas stoves were higher than those found in secondhand tobacco smoke.
So if you cook with gas, what can be done?
- Be sure to always use the vent hood and turn it on prior to igniting the burner.
- If your vent hood doesn’t vent outside, always open a window.
- If upgrading to a new stove, consider electric or induction. Sometimes there are appliance rebates available for swapping to electric so be sure to check those out.
Unfortunately, I learned about all of this right AFTER upgrading our stove to a new gas stove . When cooking I always use the vent hood and often open windows too.
Did you know this about gas stoves?