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Gas Stoves Release Dangerous Levels of Indoor Pollution, Report Finds

By Barbara Gottlieb

A new report, coauthored by PSR, documents dangerous levels of indoor air pollution from gas stoves. The report presents scientific evidence that gas stoves release several hazardous pollutants, notably nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

Not only that; levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can easily reach levels in your kitchen that exceed the outdoor air quality standards set by EPA.

Exposure to NO2 increases the risk of childhood asthma, aggravates respiratory symptoms, and is associated with learning deficits and cardiovascular effects. Carbon monoxide exposure causes effects ranging from headache, dizziness, vomiting and nausea to unconsciousness and death.

Older stoves likely emit higher concentrations of pollutants, and do those with gas pilot lights.

Stove pollution presents a particular danger to children, especially those with asthma. Living in a home with a gas stove increases children’s risk of having asthma by 42%.

Lower-income households may also be at higher risk of exposure, as the pollution more readily reaches dangerous levels in small spaces.  This makes gas stove pollution an environmental justice issue.

More of us are cooking at home these days, due to Coronavirus, so protecting ourselves from gas stove pollution is urgent. Running your stove’s exhaust fan or opening a window every time you cook will help reduce the buildup of indoor air pollution.

But that’s not always possible. Your exhaust hood fan may be broken, or it may simply recirculate the air indoors, as some range fans are not vented to the outdoors. And you may not want to open the window when it’s cold or hot outside.

A long-term solution lies in turning to electricity for use in cooking. New electric induction cooktops can replace your gas range; they use magnetic impulses to heat cookware and are fast, precise and efficient.

Many people already use a host of electric cookware already, from microwaves to crockpots to air fryers and more.

The new report, entitled Health Effects from Gas Stove Pollution, lays out recommendations for changes in public policy to protect us from this threat to health in our kitchens. It also recommends that health professionals learn about these risks and educate their patients about them.

Report coauthor Andee Krasner, MPH, is the Program Manager for Climate and Health at Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and a volunteer with Mothers Out Front. Her coauthor on the report is Brady Seals of Rocky Mountain Institute.

The report has begun to attract media attention, including an article in The Guardian that quotes Bob Gould, MD, PSR board member and a peer reviewer of the report.