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Gas Stoves Cook Great, Sure, But Are They Bad For You?

For anyone that really loves to cook, a gas stove is almost always preferred over an electric one. I mean just think of any of your favorite cooking shows—you don’t see Bobby Flay making some skirt steak tacos on a lame, electric stovetop. Cooking over a real flame is always better, Isn’t it? Let’s dive in.

Before we dive deeper into today’s topic, let’s make one thing clear. There is nothing wrong with cooking over an open fire. As a matter of fact, there is something very primal and natural about open fire cooking outdoors. However, that’s not the type of cooking we are discussing today. What we’re discussing is the specific health effects associated with using a gas powered stove to cook indoors. 

Today, about 40% of Americans use gas powered stoves in their homes. However, you never hear us talk about the fact that pollution emitted by natural gas appliances can actually be a pretty significant health risk. 

It can be easy to think that illness linked to indoor cooking is a problem that only happens in smoke filled kitchens in the developing world, but it actually turns out that even relatively-modern-day appliances here in the U.S. can emit alarming levels of health-damaging pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde.

One of the clearest pieces of scientific evidence connecting gas powered appliances and concerning health outcomes is the correlation between gas stoves and childhood asthma. According to a 2013 meta-analysis that looked at 41 different studies, children living in a home with a gas trove had a 42% higher risk of experiencing asthma symptoms and a 24% increased risk of being diagnosed with full blown asthma in their lifetime. 

Those are pretty significant percentages. 

More recently, there has been science to suggest that exposure to NO2—the primary pollutant of concern from gas appliances—could increase the risk of complications related with Covid-19 infections. 

This particular study that examined Covid-19 mortality data across the U.S. found that long-term exposure to elevated levels of NO2 was correlated with a higher risk of death from Covid-19 and that NO2 appeared to be more dangerous that particulate matter or ozone. 

Unfortunately, a lot of these concerns have not been given the amount of attention they deserve and we have been sold this idea that gas powered appliances are efficient and perfectly safe by the powerful natural gas industry for some time now. It is never easy to raise awareness around topics that would impact the bottom line of powerful players like those that run the natural gas industry. 

The key takeaway? I am always a little hesitant to talk about topics like this because it can be stressful to think that there is something else right inside of your household that you now have to worry about. It’s not like switching your stove from gas to electric is a realistic overnight solution for anyone. 

It is important, though, to be aware of what these concerns are and to, at the very least, make sure your appliances are up to date or have been recently inspected for any leaks or malfunctions.

What do you think?


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