Gas Stoves: Health and Air Quality Impacts and Solutions

Gas Stoves: Health and Air Quality Impacts and Solutions
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Published by RMI

Over 40 years of evidence indicates that gas stoves, common in kitchens across the United States, can lead to unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution.

This report synthesizes expert findings into eight key points:

Indoor air is largely unregulated and is often more polluted than outdoor air.
Gas stoves can be a large source of toxic pollutants indoors.
Indoor pollution from gas stoves can reach levels that would be illegal outdoors.
There are well-documented risks to respiratory health from gas stove pollution.
Children are particularly at risk of respiratory illnesses associated with gas stove pollution.
Lower-income households may be at higher risk of gas stove pollution exposure.
Ventilation is critical but is not the sole strategy to prevent exposure.
Electric cooking is a cleaner household cooking option.

Air pollution is preventable. By addressing pollution at the source—in this case the gas stove—negative health impacts can be mitigated. There are practical lessons to be learned:

Based on the latest science, Canada recently revised indoor guidelines and outdoor standards for nitrogen dioxide to be among the most stringent in the world.
California’s building electrification movement is reducing gas use in homes. Numerous cities and communities are going all-electric.

The Massachusetts Medical Society is educating physicians and health professionals about the link between gas stoves, household air pollution, and asthma in children.
Health research shows lower-income communities are disproportionately burdened by asthma, which is associated with gas stove use. Interventions should prioritize lower-income communities.

Taking steps to mitigate health risks can be immediate and intentional:

Individuals have multiple options to control gas stove pollution: from opening the windows and using the exhaust hood during cooking and installing a low- level carbon monoxide detector, to using a plug-in induction cooktop or switching out a gas stove for an electric stove.
Policymakers at the state and federal levels can start by setting science-based guidelines for indoor air quality, requiring that all new buildings protect residents from harmful levels of gas stove pollution, and providing financial incentives for transitioning to electric stoves.
Health professionals can recognize the risk of gas stoves, assess risk and remediation in individual cases, and actively engage in advocacy and education.
Researchers can add value by quantifying health effects of gas stoves and conducting randomized studies on the most effective interventions.