7 Things You Need to Know About Gas Stoves and Your Health

Published Feb 8, 2023

Categories

Climate and Energy

Recent research underscores how gas stoves harm our health. We’re cutting through the buzz to explain exactly what’s at stake.

Recent research underscores how gas stoves harm our health. We’re cutting through the buzz to explain exactly what’s at stake.

Our homes are often our sanctuaries — where we play, eat, and rest with our loved ones. Yet, gas stoves can make the inside of our homes even more polluted than the outdoors.

The harms of gas ranges have gained new attention, thanks to a recent study linking them to childhood asthma. But this study just reaffirms what we’ve known for decades: gas stoves are bad for our health. Here’s exactly what you need to know.

1. Cooking with Gas Worsens Indoor Air Pollution Past National Standards

The news-breaking study estimated that 1 out of 8 cases of childhood asthma can be traced to gas stoves. It builds on an older study that found children living in homes with gas ranges are 42% more likely to have asthma symptoms

One major concern: cooking with gas emits nitrogen oxides. These compounds can harm respiratory systems, even with short exposure. And gas stoves can emit nitrogen oxides at levels more than double our national outdoor air pollution standards. They can even pass these standards in a matter of minutes

What’s more, cooking with with gas spikes indoor levels of other harmful pollutants, including fine particulate matter, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.

2. Gas Stoves Leak Pollutants, Even When They’re Off

A lot of the hazards from gas ranges seep into our homes before we even light the burner. In fact, three-quarters of their emissions leak when the burners are off.

That includes leaks of fracked gas, which come with a cocktail of hazardous chemicals, including cancer-causing benzene. One study found that gas stoves can emit as much benzene as a cigarette, comparing the effect to that of secondhand smoke.

3. We Don’t Have the Regulations We Need to Tackle Indoor Air Pollution

The federal government knew as early as the 1980s that gas ranges were bad for our health. Despite this, we have no national indoor air pollution standards.

Moreover, stoves are the only indoor gas appliance that isn’t required to vent outdoors, which would relieve much of the indoor air pollution. Though mandated for everything from gas furnaces to dryers, the federal government and many states allow gas ranges to be installed unventilated. 

4. Gas Stoves Are Part of Our Climate-Wrecking Methane Problem

The fracked gas leaking from stoves is more than 90% methane, which has 80 times the climate impact of carbon dioxide. As a result, all the gas ranges in the U.S. have a climate impact equal to 500,000 additional cars on the road each year.

That only accounts for the gas leaking from our stoves. More broadly, the entire fracked gas supply chain leaks methane, from drilling, to processing, to transport. 

But for decades, gas companies aggressively marketed gas stoves to consumers, turning an everyday appliance to a beloved household mainstay. This helped to further entrench dirty infrastructure in homes and keep a polluting industry alive. 

5. Gas Stoves Don’t Harm Us All Equally

As with many environmental and health problems, indoor air pollution hits low-income communities and communities of color hardest. That’s because these folks are more likely to live in older homes or smaller homes and apartments that don’t circulate air pollution well. They’re also less likely to be able to replace their gas stoves with less-polluting electric ones. 

Gas stoves also worsen health conditions that lower-income, Black, and Latino children are more likely to have. For example, children in these groups suffer from asthma at higher rates. That’s often because redlining policies and unjust siting decisions put them closer to sources of outdoor air pollution, like dirty industry and highways.

6. You Can Reduce Some of the Effects …

There are several short-term fixes that will lower the impact of pollution from gas ranges. Running a box or ceiling fan that pushes air outdoors will help. You can also turn on the range hood, if you have one, even for a task as short and simple as boiling water. 

However, many hoods don’t work or just recirculate air inside the home. That’s where open windows come in — ventilation is key to lowering the indoor air pollution from running gas stoves. The more air cycling between the indoors and the outdoors, the better. 

7. … But Going All-Electric is the Best Solution

Short-term fixes will lower air pollution, but none so well as getting rid of gas stoves, full stop. Luckily, we have a great alternative in electric induction stoves.

Homes with electric ranges have up to four times lower nitrogen oxide levels than those with gas. Electric stoves are also three times more efficient than gas, saving energy costs. Moreover, if powered by renewables, electric stoves eliminate the climate and health problems of fracked gas.

Already, states and cities across the country are banning gas hookups in new construction. Federal programs are supporting homeowners to transition. Modern electric induction stoves bring tons of cooking benefits over gas, from faster boiling times to more precise temperature control. 

It’s clearer than ever that we must ban gas in new houses and help renters and homeowners go electric. To bring about healthier homes, healthier communities, and a healthier planet, we need to electrify everything — including our stoves.

Your friends and family need to know just how gas stoves threaten our health and our planet.

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