Cooking with gas stoves may increase the risk of Leukemia

Gas stoves can pollute our indoor air.

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A recent study has uncovered a concerning connection between gas stoves and increased indoor levels of a chemical associated with a higher risk of blood cell cancers. The research highlights the potential health risks from combustion from gas stoves, shedding light on the need for further investigation and awareness. The findings raise important considerations for individuals who rely on home gas stoves. They underscore the importance of ensuring proper ventilation and exploring alternative cooking methods to mitigate potential health hazards.

A recent analysis led by Stanford University has revealed that the carcinogen benzene, associated with an increased risk of Leukemia and other blood cell cancers, can infiltrate millions of homes when gas stoves are used. The study found that operating a single gas cooktop burner on high or setting a gas oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit can result in indoor benzene levels surpassing those found in secondhand tobacco smoke.

Additionally, the research showed that benzene can disperse throughout a home and remain in the air for hours after gas stove usage. These findings, published on June 15 in Environmental Science & Technology, highlight the potential health risks of gas stove emissions and emphasize the need for further awareness and measures to mitigate exposure.

Study senior author Rob Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor and professor of Earth System Science at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, said “Benzene forms in flames and other high-temperature environments, such as flares in oil fields and refineries. We now know that benzene also forms in the flames of gas stoves in our homes. Good ventilation helps reduce pollutant concentrations, but exhaust fans were often ineffective at eliminating benzene exposure.”

According to a recent study, indoor concentrations of the carcinogen benzene formed during the use of gas stoves are worse than those from secondhand smoke. The research also revealed that benzene could spread to other rooms in the house, with bedroom concentrations exceeding health benchmarks. Residential range hoods were found to be ineffective at reducing benzene levels, even when vented outdoors.

Using portable induction cooktops or electric kitchenware is recommended to reduce exposure to pollutants from gas stoves. State and local rebates and federal tax credits can help offset gas appliance replacement costs. The study is the first to analyze benzene emissions during stove and oven usage and found that gas burners emitted significantly more benzene than electric stoves, while induction cooktops emitted none. The research highlights the environmental and health risks of gas stoves and alternative cooking methods’ benefits.

In conclusion, the study highlights that gas and propane combustion in stoves releases benzene, a carcinogen, into indoor air, leading to increased indoor air pollution. Emission levels of benzene from gas stoves can exceed those found in secondhand tobacco smoke, with benzene dispersing throughout the home and lingering for extended periods.

Reducing exposure includes

  • improved ventilation,
  • utilizing electric cooking alternatives, and
  • taking advantage of available incentives to transition from gas to electric appliances.

The findings emphasize the importance of considering the environmental and health implications of gas stove usage and promoting cleaner cooking practices for improved indoor air quality.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yannai S. Kashtan, Metta Nicholson et al. Gas and Propane Combustion from Stoves Emits Benzene and Increases Indoor Air Pollution. Environmental science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c09289.

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