Research Adds to Case Against Gas Stoves

Scientists say potentially harmful emissions are worse than thought
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2022 6:05 PM CDT
Stoves Cause More Pollution Than Scientists Expected
   (Getty - Ilya Rumyantsev)

Among environmental researchers and government regulators, it’s already common knowledge that gas appliances produce emissions that are potentially harmful to humans, including nitrogen oxides, toxic particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and even formaldehyde. That’s why furnaces and water heaters are required to be vented outside the building. Researchers are also aware of links between homes with gas stoves and increased risks of asthma and other health problems. While stoves are by no means the only sources of indoor air pollution, they do appear to be far worse than previously known, according to a new study, per Canada’s CBC News.

A research team led by chemist Tara Kahan of the University of Saskatchewan measured pollution levels in homes after a gas stove was used. “Not only did levels of nitrogen oxide pollutants sometimes exceed Health Canada guidelines for a one-hour exposure, but the pollutants often lingered for a couple of hours," Kahan tells the CBC. "It really took a long time to go away. All of the researchers were pretty horrified.” Per the Conversation, the problem is compounded in modern homes, where “better insulation means more accumulation of household pollutants.” Ventilation can help, so turn on the hood, and use the back burners when possible because the hood captures more fumes from there.

Many hoods are not vented to the outside and simply recirculate pollutants through the indoor environment, so opening a window never hurts. Human health isn’t the only concern. Gas-burning appliances also release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. As the CBC reported earlier this year, research shows stoves release high amounts of methane, even when not in use. Overall, “emissions from US gas stoves each year are equivalent to emissions from 500,000 cars.” Thus, experts cited by the CBC are keen on switching to electric appliances whenever possible. Furthermore, many major cities across the US will soon impose bans on gas stoves in new construction. (More cookstoves stories.)

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