The Hidden Danger of Gas Appliances
Ok, confession: I didn’t learn the meaning of the expression “You’re cooking with gas now!” until I was about 25 because I didn’t grow up in a home with a gas stove! When I learned it, however, I knew I wanted a gas stove in my own home because I like to try new recipes and of course, restaurants had gas stoves. Gas was supposedly the best.
Fast forward to today—I have had gas stoves in my other homes, and no doubt it is a different method of cooking! My current home has an electric stove (because it came with the house) but that renovation priority is declining because of new information about the by-products of burning gas.
Burning natural gas or propane in indoor appliances causes particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and formaldehyde to be expelled into the air, which are not adequately vented by exhaust fans. Gas stoves are the largest polluter but gas heaters, water heaters, and clothes dryers all contribute. A 2013 meta-analysis (analysis of 41 studies) concluded that NO2 indoor air pollution from gas cooking increases the risk of asthma in children by 42% and increased wheeze (breathing difficulty). Cooking on a gas stove in a small apartment for one hour raises NO2 levels in the air to easily surpass air quality limits set by the EPA and California Air Resource Board, or CARB. Venting does help lower these levels, but many lower income families use stoves in kitchens that are unvented, though they are illegal. In another meta-analysis, exposure to NO2 and COPD were positively associated.
For the benefit of the young to the older members of your household, we hope that you will re-think “cooking with gas”! (and heating with gas, and drying your clothes with gas…) As for me, my grill outside is working just fine!