New research suggests that gas burners aren’t all they’re made up to be — can actually spew harmful chemicals into the air inside your house. Cooking with gas has long been a sought-after kitchen enhancement.
However, methane isn’t the only harmful chemical that gas stoves emit. Researchers have determined that gas ranges contribute significantly to the greenhouse gas methane. It’s not only natural gas that’s coming out of your burner, but also known carcinogens as well as other harmful compounds. The researchers discovered that natural gas had a high concentration of air toxics, which are compounds classified by the EPA as having the potential to trigger cancer and other major health issues in humans.
Scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health examined 200 samples of unburnt natural gas taken from 69 stoves and pipes in the Boston metro region between December 2019 and May 2021 to identify levels of hazardous chemicals contained in natural gas. A total of 21 air toxics were discovered in the samples. Gas leaks may go undetected for long periods of time because the odorants used to warn residents about them are often ineffective in detecting minor leakage. This study demonstrates that gas appliances, such as stoves and ovens, may be a source of harmful chemicals in our houses even when we are not utilizing them, according to the researchers.
Leaking harmful substances
Leaking gas distribution networks across cities and farther up the supply chain are expected to include the same pollutants. Benzene, a recognized carcinogen that affects both red and white blood cells, was among the harmful substances detected by the study. It may lead to anemia and a decrease in the body’s ability to fight infection. Per the research, there is no safe threshold of exposure to benzene. Benzene is strictly controlled. However, benzene was found in 95% of the natural gas samples tested. Methane, ethylbenzene, xylene, and toluene were also discovered in the samples, as were several additional pollutants classified as dangerous by the EPA. Families all over the world are suffering from poor indoor air quality as a result of chemical leakage, which has the potential to lead to serious health issues or to exacerbate already existing ones.
Gas stoves and ovens have been phased out in recent years in favor of electric equipment. That’s not something many families are able to afford at this point in time. It’s best to switch on a ventilation fan or cover before you start your burner, rather than immediately after the burner is lit, according to specialists.