How many time have your heard the professional chef on TV or elsewhere tell you that cooking on a gas stoves is the optimal choice? What you’re not a serious cook and/or planning a high-end kitchens ? Yes there is the argument that the use of an electric stove has less controllability and there are some real questions about using the newer induction stoves due to their high electromagnetic field effect.
Let’s get some ideas about this common approach and how it may be affecting your family’s health. You undoubtedly have seen multiple warnings on your camping gear to never use a gas stove in your home, why ? When you combust any product, be that the natural gas or propane, it creates a group of other chemicals including some that you’ve heard of such as carbon monoxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and more.
Why does this matter, because your children have developing lung tissue and they move more air than adults which means that they are more susceptible to injury. Need proof of how significant the air is to you and your family ? See this article on adolescents and mental health or how about the difference in health with some clean air.
The Science and studies:
There have been a number of quality studies of air quality in homes with gas stoves during the past decades and the findings are consistent, “Gas cooking is a main source of indoor air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particles”. In this publication “Indoor air pollution from gas cooking and infant neurodevelopment” The researchers looked at the effects on your infant. To summarize their findings, “Conclusions: This study suggests a small adverse effect of indoor air pollution from gas cookers on the mental development of young children”.
A number of years later another researcher Rob Jackson published this work, “Methane and NOx Emissions from Natural Gas Stoves, Cooktops, and Ovens in Residential Homes” where he tested homes and concluded, Our data suggest that families who don’t use their range hoods or who have poor ventilation can surpass the 1-h national standard of nitrogen oxides NO2 (100 ppb) within a few minutes of stove usage, particularly in smaller kitchens.
Did you know that New York, Washington State and the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland are actually banning gas stoves in new constructions. New York’s ban starts in 2023 with Berkeley having started in 2019. More than 50 cities and counties in California, such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Sacramento, already have passed ordinances that require construction of new buildings to be natural gas-free or meet electrification building codes.
When you combust a gas it releases a number of chemicals. Our focus for this blog is the combination output of nitrogen dioxide which has multiple health effects even from low levels of exposures nitrogen oxides in the air. This chemical “can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, possibly causing you to cough and experience shortness of breath, tiredness, and nausea. Exposure to low levels can also result in fluid build-up in the lungs 1 or 2 days after exposure. Breathing high levels of nitrogen oxides can cause rapid burning, spasms, and swelling of tissues in the throat and upper respiratory tract, reduced oxygenation of body tissues, a build-up of fluid in your lungs, and death”.
But wait there’s more bad news when you combust a gas. What about the carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) ? If there is good news the formaldehyde level is minimal compared to other outgassing products in the typical home. As to the carbon monoxide, well it depends on a number of factors however, as a deadly odorless gas it’s not something to dismiss. If you think this is fear mongering perhaps reading this website from the Iowa State University may change your mind.
Forgive me it it’s not obvious, if your vent hood is not directing the fumes to the outside of your home it’s not doing the job. Check for a clear outside vent however. that’s probably not enough but a start . To properly vent your gas stove you need adequate air flow which is hard to achieve if the vent is greater than ~30 ” above the burners. Yes check your setup including the way the pipe is assembled. Too many turns and it’s not going to work well and don’t forget it needs to be solid not flexible pipe. If you know the amount of air your vent moves (CFM) you can calculate if it’s adequate. The rule of thumb is 100 cfm for every linear foot of cooking surface or for high end ranges, consider all the burners and then you’ll need ~ 100 cfm for every 10,000 BTUs. Another consideration is the rule of for every 3 inches a hood exceeds the suggested height above the cooktop (30″), add another 100 cfm to get adequate air flow. Now that we are this deep into the subject let’s not forget there’s more when you consider air flow. When was the last time you cleaned the filters ? Want to restrict flow, think of all the grease and other materials that get into your filters.
Did you know that the energy efficiency of a gas stove is only 40% ?For comparison using your electric stove is 74%. and yes induction is better at 90%. In the next article we will discuss the downsides to the induction stove and why we at Pure Living are not suggesting it’s use.
Your gas stove is an ecological disaster. Hang on I’ll explain, in the study by professor Jackson they tested the homes with the gas OFF. What they found should be upsetting. Even with the appliance off there was emissions of methane gas. Why is this an issue, consider this: “Using a 20-year timeframe for methane, annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in U.S. homes have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500 000 cars.”
Using a 20-year timeframe for methane, annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in U.S. homes have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500 000 cars. Now if that’s not enough to sway you consider , “The reaction of nitrogen dioxide with chemicals produced by sunlight leads to the formation of nitric acid, which is a major constituent of acid rain. Nitrogen dioxide also reacts with sunlight, which leads to the formation of ozone and smog conditions in the air we breathe”.
If you have a gas stove always put the vent on when your cooking
Baking do the same with ventilation, always on if your using a gas range
If it’s possible to change from gas to electric “just do it”… and check for rebates
Choose electric vs induction due to the questionable electromagnetic levels and evolving science
If the gas stoves flame is not really blue, stop everything and vent the home ASAP