What type of stove do you have in your home? Gas stoves are a popular option. In fact, approximately 38% of households in the U.S. use them, as they’re often more affordable and easier to maintain than their electric counterparts. Plus, many families and professional chefs still prefer gas stoves because they cater to various types of cookware and offer better heat control. The downside? Gas stoves also emit pollutants that can severely affect our health.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to reduce our exposure to these dangerous air contaminants while still enjoying a gas stove's benefits.
How Do Gas Stoves Work?
Cooks usually prefer gas stoves due to their versatility and power. These appliances provide instant, adjustable heat, allowing them to shortcut cooking processes and make grilling, searing, and roasting easier. Most gas stoves used in household kitchens require natural gas, but some models use other forms of fuel, like propane.
Gas and air enter the stove with the help of the burner assembly. Both flow through the mixer tube, trigger the ignition system, and then release a blue flame in the burner holes. You can then use the burner control knobs to adjust the heat it produces. The higher the turn, the higher the gas flow, heat, and flame size.
Older gas stoves depend on pilot lights, while most standard gas stoves today use automatic ignition systems to spark stove top burners. How do the two compare? Well, a pilot light can be used as an ignition source for any gas appliance. It constantly burns inside the furnace and can be re-lit if accidentally extinguished.
An automatic ignition system, on the other hand, only turns on when needed and is considered more reliable than conventional manual pilot lights. However, it requires electricity to ignite the gas and more frequent servicing. Even the battery-operated ones need regular maintenance and part replacement.
Are Gas Stoves Safe?
Using a gas stove is easy and straightforward, but it has disadvantages, like any other appliance. The most noteworthy disadvantage is its ability to release high levels of indoor air pollutants that can potentially cause significant health problems, particularly for those with existing respiratory illnesses.
A 2022 Stanford University study shows that gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde (HCHO), and particulate matter through leaks and combustion. Even when turned off, gas stoves can release methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas.
Gas stoves and other gas-powered devices are major climate crisis contributors, constantly releasing gasses that warm the planet and pose serious risks to humans, animals, and the environment.
According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, nitrogen dioxide is 50% to 400% higher in homes with gas-powered stoves than those with electric ones. Moreover, people exposed to carbon monoxide emissions may experience headaches, vomiting, nausea, and dizziness.
Similarly, nitrogen dioxide can increase the sensitivities of asthma patients and worsen their condition. Increased indoor concentrations can result in wheezing, decreased respiratory function, and other adverse health effects. Further studies suggest that nitrogen dioxide emissions from certain types of gas burners exceed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s outdoor standards.
Gas Stoves and Children
Young children up to five years old are more vulnerable to gas stove pollution, and those living in a home with this appliance have a 20% increased risk of developing a respiratory disease. A recent study supported this, saying that 12.7% of asthma cases among kids in the U.S. has been attributed to gas stove use.
Furthermore, one meta-analysis found that wheezing risk factors rise to 15% for every 15 ppb rise in nitrogen dioxide. In addition to asthma and lung infections, children's exposure to gas cooking pollutants may lead to cardiovascular conditions.
They may also experience aggravated respiratory symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. Even if they don't spend much time in the kitchen, gasses and particulate matter can reach their bedrooms and other areas around the house.
Prioritize Your Kitchen and Your Health
How can you ensure the health of your family and, at the same time, enjoy the benefits of a gas stove? Let’s go over a few simple suggestions.
First, focus on improving your home’s ventilation and practicing proactive cooking. As much as possible, cook at low temperatures to lessen the toxic gasses produced.
Furthermore, choose the best range hood to expel the fumes from your living space immediately. Remember that some range hoods just recirculate smoke around the kitchen. Choose the best one to effectively push air impurities out of your home.
You can also open some of the windows in your home to let polluted air out and fresher air in. However, just be sure to check the outdoor air quality in your area first, using something like AirNow.gov.
It’s also helpful to monitor carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide detectors alert you when they sense high levels in your living space, warning you before you start to experience any symptoms. More importantly, see to it that the kids are not in the kitchen when you’re cooking to prevent them from breathing too much smoke and other impurities.
You should also use an activated carbon air purifier for cleaner, healthier air. Studies show that an air purifier can significantly reduce indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations and other toxic gasses. The best activated carbon air purifiers also use HEPA filters, a type of filter that can eliminate at least 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Improving indoor air quality requires both a proactive and reactive approach. We can’t totally prevent pollutants from forming, but we can partially do so. An air purifier will help take care of the rest.
If you want to continue cooking with your gas stove while also prioritizing your health, shop with Sans today for cleaner, fresher air.