Is Your Natural Gas Stove Slowly Poisoning You?

Have a natural gas stove? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then brace yourself. A newly released study finds that gas stoves can leak chemicals known to cause cancer. And the stove doesn’t even have to be in use!

Unburned natural gas piped into California homes was found to dramatically increase levels of benzene, a cancer-causing agent, to levels that are seven times higher than the state’s established safety limit.

Piped into millions of California homes and used in appliances that cook or heat, researchers raised the alarm in the publication Environmental Science & Technology, stating that kitchens that had leaky stoves were even more at risk.

This is really not good. To give you a better idea of what the researchers found, the amount of unburned gas in just 1 year was equal to the annual benzene emissions from 58,000 light duty, gas-powered vehicles. And this is in your home. Where you eat, sleep, and generally live life.

One of the researchers Dr. Eric D. Lebel, was quoted in a news release. “Stoves leak small amounts of gas all the time, even when they are off. While these leaks are often too small to smell, they can still impact air quality and increase human health risks in our homes,” said Lebel. “We found that just having a gas stove can create benzene concentrations in the kitchen comparable to secondhand smoke.”

This study focused on California homes, but it is likely the same in many areas where natural gas is in use. In fact, a similar study based in Boston revealed varying levels of not just benzene, but other chemicals known to be toxic, including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and hexane.

Back to benzene, though; it is linked to leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Health officials say there is actually no safe level because of its connection to cancer.

Long-term exposure to benzene may increase the risk of blood disorders and reproductive issues, although many questions are still unanswered.

Of all the homes evaluated in this latest study, 98 percent had elevated levels of toxic chemicals. Nearly every home!

If all this isn’t enough to raise alarm bells, the study authors noted their estimates of indoor concentrations of benzene could be underestimated. Why? Because they only looked at leaks — not actual combustion. Who knows how much natural gas is leaking during actual stove top cooking.

It’s hard to tell whether your home has a leak. Gas companies add compounds to gas that give off a rotten egg smell so major leaks don’t go undetected, but the scent usually isn’t noticeable unless gas is leaking at high concentrations.

Government officials are looking into the situation, but say there is a simple solution. Switch from natural gas to electric if you want to be certain that no gas is seeping into your home.

What do you think?


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