Gas Stoves Leak Toxic Chemicals: Study

A new study conducted by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers some food for thought for users of gas stoves: First, scientists discovered that natural gas contains more carcinogens than previously thought. And second, researchers found that 5% of gas stoves leak small amounts of gas (and therefore emit harmful amounts of airborne toxins into your home) when not in use*. 

Study overview

In a 16-month long study researchers took samples from 69 stoves in homes serviced by three different natural gas companies across the Boston area. Testing of the precombustion (unburned) methane gas found over 300 chemicals, including 21 airborne toxins**. Those toxins notably included low levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, which was discovered in 95% of the natural gas tested.

Takeaway

Researchers have found that natural gas used in gas stoves contain over 300 chemicals, including 21 airborne toxins. Those toxins notably include low levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, which was discovered in 95% of the natural gas tested.

What should you do?

-Ventilate your kitchen…keep a window cracked.

-Circulate the air in your kitchen with a fan.

-Get an air purifier with a charcoal filter for your kitchen…air purifiers with charcoal filters will remove harmful benzene and other air toxins.

-Get a gas leak detector

-Install a carbon monoxide detector (natural gas leaks will release carbon monoxide into the air)

-Call your gas company and request an inspection of your stove

*Based on odorant concentrations, small leaks can be undetectable by smell – leaks up to 10 times naturally occurring levels may be undetectable, equating to a methane concentration of about 20 parts per million.

**Concentrations of hazardous air pollutants in natural gas varied depending on location and time of year, with the highest concentrations found in the winter.


Journal reference:  Drew R. Michanowicz, Archana Dayalu, Curtis L. Nordgaard, Jonathan J. Buonocore, Molly W. Fairchild, Robert Ackley, Jessica E. Schiff, Abbie Liu, Nathan G. Phillips, Audrey Schulman, Zeyneb Magavi, and John D. Spengler, Home is Where the Pipeline Ends: Characterization of Volatile Organic Compounds Present in Natural Gas at the Point of the Residential End User, Environmental Science & Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c08298

Summary | Summary | Study: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c08298


Eric