Should You Get Rid of Your Gas Stove?
February 07, 2023
Research over many years has shown that gas-burning stoves release volatile compounds in the air that are harmful to humans. A recent study linking gas stoves to childhood asthma raises more concerns. The study found that gas stoves are linked to more than 12 percent of childhood asthma cases in the United States.
“There are quite a number of environmental exposures linked to the development or worsening of asthma, including outdoor air pollution and compounds from cooking,” says Kristie Ross, MD, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve known for a long time that exposure to levels of air pollution even within EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards can permanently affect lung development in children,” Dr. Ross says.
Like combustion engines in cars and trucks, cooking on a gas stove releases poisonous gases called nitrogen oxides, which can trigger respiratory problems. Gas cooking emits other toxic pollutants as well.
The recent study is the first to estimate how many cases of asthma may be caused by emissions from gas stoves, Dr. Ross says.
“I’m not surprised about the association, but the number of children affected is higher than I would have expected,” Dr. Ross says. “Five million kids in the United States have asthma – 12 percent of 5 million is a lot of children.”
Some children are more sensitive to pollutants and vulnerable to asthma, but it’s not known why or how to identify them, Dr. Ross says.
Steps to Reduce Hazards
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is exploring ways to reduce the hazard, but is not seeking to ban gas stoves, the agency chairman said. In its 2022 report, Consumer Reports recommended that people shopping for a new range consider electric stoves.
Dr. Ross says people who use gas stoves to cook shouldn’t panic, but should take precautions:
- Kitchens should be well ventilated.
- Always turn on exhaust hoods when cooking.
- Exhaust hoods should ventilate to the outside.
- Ceiling fans and cracking windows and doors also can help dissipate gases.
- Keep children out of the kitchen as much as possible when cooking.
- If your child has asthma, talk to your pediatrician about any concerns.
“Everybody recognizes that it’s not a simple thing to get rid of gas stoves.” Dr. Ross says. “However, when we’re thinking about the future, it’s important to consider all the options we have in new home construction and improved ventilation that could have a real impact on children’s health over the long-term.”
The highly specialized pediatric pulmonologists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's work closely together and across multiple disciplines to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent various lung diseases in children, ranging from common breathing problems to rare pulmonary disorders. Learn more.