In recent years, environmentalists have repeatedly warned of the harmful effects of gas stoves on the environment. As it became increasingly clear that harmful fumes in our kitchens were also aggravating lung disease, studies reported by Scientific American add to the concerns.
Two categories of emissions are of particular concern to scientists: the unburned natural gas that escapes before the flame is even lit, composed of more than 90% methane, and the pollutants, generally oxides of nitrogen, created by combustion.
In a study conducted by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the research team collected 234 samples of natural fumes from 69 residences in the Boston metro area. The aim was to examine the methane-complementary components of unburned cooker gases. The analyzes are alarming for health, since they reveal the presence of twenty-one chemicals considered dangerous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as benzene and other volatile organic compounds ( VOC).
Scientists are all the more concerned that many people telecommute and are continually plagued by the inhalation of these particles. “We have about 20,000 breaths a day. In addition, as we improve the airtightness of homes, air exchange is reduced and indoor pollution is only more persistent”, torments Drew Michanowicz, lead author of the study. The impacts on health are therefore not to be neglected, especially when the extractor hoods are switched off.
According to research conducted by Stanford University, families with poorly ventilated kitchens can exceed the EPA’s outdoor nitrogen dioxide exposure limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb) per hour. This can worsen the symptoms of people with respiratory conditions and even increase the risk of developing asthma.
Dramatic environmental consequences
The Stanford researchers also took stock of the ecological impact. More than three-quarters of the methane that emanates from a gas stove escapes when it is not in use, possibly due to plumbing problems. According to the study data, only one of the fifty-three devices tested did not leak when turned off.
Although methane is not toxic, it is a powerful greenhouse gas that can have disastrous environmental consequences. In the United States, the amount of particles emitted by the 40 million gas stoves is approximately equivalent to the carbon dioxide emitted by half a million gasoline cars.
In order to remedy this alarming observation, the experts submit a radical solution: install an induction cooker. For the more skeptical, using the extractor hood will already represent a big step since only 25 to 40% of the American population claim to do so. But will this shocking evidence be enough to change cooking habits?