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People who live in households with gas stoves are more likely to develop lung diseases such as asthma — especially children — and are constantly exposed to chemicals linked to multiple lung problems and even cancer, an expert warns.
dr. Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University, wrote for The Conversation that the stoves found in at least 40 million American homes pollute indoor air with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) — the same pollutant associated with major highways. Due to the more closed nature of an indoor space compared to the outside, the pollution in a gas stove kitchen can be stronger than on a major highway.
Continued exposure to NO2 can cause significant lung damage. Children in the home are more likely to develop asthma, and adults are at increased risk for respiratory diseases.
Gas stoves also continue to emit harmful chemicals when they are off. Methane, which can make a person have trouble breathing and cause a rapid heartbeat. Benzene can also leak from switched-off gas stoves. The chemical has been linked to the development of multiple cancers – although experts aren’t sure if the amount of benzene leaked from stoves is enough to cause serious concern.
A study published in 2013 found that small increases in the levels of nitrogen dioxide in household air (green) can significantly increase a child’s risk of developing asthma. In the most severe cases, it can more than double a child’s risk of suffering from the chronic condition (yellow)
Gas stoves emit the same NO2 pollutant often associated with road traffic, and even when turned off, methane and benzene can be released into household air, expert warns
‘[NO2] is a byproduct of fuel combustion,” Levy explained.
Exposure to nitrogen dioxide in homes has been linked to more severe asthma and increased use of emergency inhalers in children.
“This gas can also affect asthmatic adults, and it contributes to both the development and worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
a 2013 study found that children who lived in homes with gas stoves were 42 percent more likely to have asthma than their peers.
Another 2013 study by researchers at Yale University found that every five parts per billion (PPB) increase in NO2 in the air led to a significant increase in wheezing and asthma in children at home.
Levy also warns that the size of the house, the size of the room in which the kitchen is located, and the ventilation of the house are crucial factors in how dangerous a gas stove can be.
He cites a study that found NO2 levels in the home often exceeded usual safety standards when used.
In many homes, the gas stove is a greater source of pollution than outdoor sources because of the concentration of the gases in a small area.
The most common source of NO2 in the environment is road traffic, as combustion engines still used in the vast majority of cars emit it continuously.
Some people who live in larger homes with more adequate ventilation may still be at risk from their gas stoves.
While opening a window, having an extractor hood, or other strategies can significantly reduce exposure, the gas can still be emitted in alarming amounts.
However, the concerns go beyond NO2. Gas stoves that are not in use emit methane, a dangerous chemical that has attracted attention in recent years due to its negative effects on human health and the environment.
dr. Jonathan Levy (pictured), a professor at Boston University, recommends that the 40 million American households that still have gas stoves switch to electric
The gas is not considered toxic, but it does pose risks if a person is exposed to it in large amounts.
It can cause breathing problems – because the gas displaces oxygen – and, as a result, lead to shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, fatigue and other breathing and circulation problems.
Levy says about five percent of homes with gas stoves suffer from methane leaks large enough to be repaired — without the resident’s knowledge.
Benzene can also be emitted from a person’s turned off heater. The gas is considered a carcinogen, as it has been linked to leukemia and other blood-based cancers.
However, the amount of benzene that comes out of the stove is limited and does not reach levels considered toxic by health officials. However, there are still concerns about continued exposure.
The most recently available data from 2015 estimates that about 40 million American households use a gas stove — or nearly a third of the homes in the country.
This means that a large proportion of Americans may be unknowingly exposed to hazardous chemicals on a consistent basis.
Levy, like many environmental health experts who have long warned against the use of these stoves, believes that the potential health risks should be enough to encourage people to make the switch to an electrical appliance.
“In my opinion, even if you’re not driven to reduce your carbon footprint — or you’re just looking for ways to cook pasta faster — the ability to have cleaner air in your home can be a strong motivator to make the switch.” to make,” he said.