Study finds more evidence that gas stoves are harmful to human health: ‘worse than secondhand smoke’

Study finds more evidence that gas stoves are harmful to human health: 'worse than secondhand smoke'
A flame is burning on a gas stove.

A flame is burning on a gas stove. (Photo illustration: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Use Gas stoves can raise levels of the carcinogen benzene all over the home to dangerous levels for hours after use, according to a newly released study.

Published last week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study was the first to measure benzene emissions from gas stoves and ovens, and found that concentrations of the toxic chemical exceeded a standard that the Environmental Protection Agency deemed unsafe.

“We found that a single gas burner on high, or an oven set to 350 F, for 45 minutes raised kitchen benzene concentrations above the highest estimate for benzene concentrations found in secondhand smoke in about a third of the cases we measured,” Yani Kashtan, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, said. Doerr School of Sustainability at Stanford University and the lead author of this research, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Data was collected from 87 homes across 11 counties in California and three in Colorado.

The researchers found that the chemical spread slowly throughout the home, resulting in high concentrations for hours after cooking.

“Within a half hour, levels start to climb down the hall,” Rob Jackson, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and one of the study’s authors, said in a briefing Tuesday. “It takes in some cases six hours or more for benzene to return to background levels.”

Mounting evidence

Gas stove for sale at a home improvement store in Chicago.

Gas stove for sale at a home improvement store in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Acute benzene poisoning can cause symptoms such as drowsinessdizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, headache, and even death at very high levels. Long-term exposure to benzene can reduce the number of red blood cells, leading to anemia, can weaken the immune system and can cause cancers such as leukemia.

A 2018 systematic review of the research, also published in Global Pediatric Health It was found that the diagnosis of asthma The frequency of reported asthma symptoms is also higher in children exposed to benzene in the air.

hot topic

Gas stoves have recently been the source of much political controversy, as other recent studies have found that the release of pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide from gas stoves increases the incidence of childhood asthma.

This led a member of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to speak out about regulating gas stoves, including possibly banning their sale at some point in the future, angering Republicans and conservatives and prompting the committee chair. To disavow any such scheme.

A pot of boiling water on a gas stove.

A pot of boiling water on a gas stove. (Photo illustration: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

The Department of Energy (DOE) proposed in late January that it require increased energy efficiency from gas stoves, which would reduce pollution from them. In May, House Republicans held a hearing against the proposal, and earlier this month, passed bills aimed at thwarting potential regulation of gas stoves.

“Gas stoves have gotten a lot of attention lately, and one of the reasons they’re a potential health concern is that they’re the only fossil fuel appliance that breathes pollution indoors,” Jackson said. “We would never willingly stand over the tailpipe of a car breathing in its pollution, but we would willingly stand over our stoves, breathing in the pollution it emits.”

The gas industry and its GOP allies in Congress say regulations that pull gas stove models from the market unfairly limit consumer choice.

Fifty percent of the market will not comply with the DOE rule. “That’s a lot of gas stoves,” said Matthew Agen, senior energy regulatory advisor for the American Gas Association. “A large percentage of desirable products with features that people are looking for will be eliminated.”

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