Study compares gas stove fumes to secondhand cigarette smoke
New York Times journalist Hiroko Tabuchi reports on a startling new study conducted by researchers at Stanford's Doerr School of Sustainability that concludes using a single gas-stove burner can lead to indoor concentrations of benzene, a known carcinogen, exceeding levels found in secondhand tobacco smoke.
In a nutshell:
The study measured benzene emissions from stoves in 87 single-family homes across California and Colorado and found that natural gas and propane stoves frequently emitted benzene concentrations surpassing health benchmarks set by public agencies like the World Health Organization. Shockingly, a third of the homes saw benzene levels exceeding those found in secondhand smoke. This research adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the dangers of gas stoves, which emit myriad harmful pollutants even when not in use, and have been linked to health effects such as childhood asthma.
“I found it startling,” said Yannai Kashtan, the lead author of the study, “that concentrations that were enough to trigger a public outcry when they were detected outside are concentrations that we’ve found repeatedly inside, just from stoves in people’s homes.”
The big picture:
To combat climate change and protect health, a number of U.S. cities and states have moved to phase out gas stoves in residential buildings. Yet Tabuchi notes that phaseouts and restrictions on gas stoves have become politicized. Conservatives have seized on the issue as an example of government overreach, and last week House Republicans passed a bill restricting the use of federal funds to regulate gas stoves as hazardous. Benzene, which gas stoves produce when they burn methane, is categorized as a human carcinogen by the United Nations International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Read more at the New York Times.