Gas Stoves Are Exposing People to Alarming Air Pollution Levels Indoors: Report
A group of experts in the U.S. have found that gas stoves are making indoor pollution up to two to five times dirtier than outdoor air.
The report was published by researchers from the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, in association with environmental advocacy groups. The researchers concluded that the air pollution levels resulting from gas appliances used by almost a third of the American population would be illegal if it was found outdoors. “Somehow we’ve gotten accustomed to having a combustion device, often unvented, inside of the home,” Brady Seals, lead author of the report, told The Guardian.
While the study was based in the U.S., the results are broadly applicable to households where gas stoves are common. As of March 2018, 80 percent of Indian households were using cooking gas, and with government-aid schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, those numbers have only grown. And now, with the Covid19 global lockdown and social distancing norms, more and more people are cooped up inside their houses and cooking their meals at home.
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When gas stoves are fired up, they emit fumes containing large amounts of nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, which can cause headaches, dizziness, and respiratory disorders, among a wide array of health implications. In addition, they also cause particle pollution. So, not only do gas stoves pose a threat to the climate, but they jeopardize human health as well — especially, the health of the inhabitants of these houses. In fact, almost 3.8 million people die every year from diseases like pneumonia, stroke, heart and respiratory diseases that are caused by indoor air pollution.
The report suggests that the best way to curb this menace would be to switch to electric stoves. “Since electric stoves do not emit high levels of combustion pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, they are inherently cleaner than gas stoves. In the first published intervention study to remediate indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations from gas stoves, researchers found that replacing a gas stove with an electric stove decreased median nitrogen dioxide concentrations by 51 percent in the kitchen,” the authors wrote. They also suggested ventilating, keeping windows open and using carbon monoxide detectors as alternate solutions.
“We just need to make these investments. This fits into an overall plan we would have to protect, particularly, our vulnerable populations,” Dr. Robert Gould, a California pathologist and board member for Physicians for Social Responsibility who peer-reviewed the report, said.