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Stanford study calls gas stoves a risk to public health and the planet

January 27, 2022, 6:00 PM UTC

Gas stoves might be an amenity that helps sell a home faster, but new research suggests they do far more damage to the environment than previously thought—and could trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Scientists at Stanford University found that, even when they’re turned off, gas stoves leak methane. Over a 20-year period, the study found, the impact of these emissions (and the methane that escapes when they’re being ignited) does the same climate damage as 500,000 gas-powered cars.

The effect on homeowners could be just as concerning, as researchers said the data suggested that families that don’t use their range hoods (or have poor ventilation) when using their gas stove can surpass the safety levels of nitrogen dioxide within a few minutes.

There has been a growing push for homeowners to swap out their kitchen’s gas stove for an electric model, but it’s an uphill battle. The stoves heat faster and make it easier to cook at home, proponents say. They’re found in over 40 million homes around the U.S., according to data collected in 2015, the most recent study available.

The Stanford study was a small one, measuring emissions from stoves in just 53 homes across seven California counties, but the results were extrapolated to show a larger impact.

Several states have taken action in recent months to prompt a shift. New York has banned gas hookups in all new buildings. And California (where 60% of homeowners use gas) and Massachusetts are encouraging people to switch. Other states, though, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, have passed laws forbidding cities from restricting gas use.

The natural gas industry has also lobbied against a shift away from gas stoves, pointing to their popularity and the lower cost of cooking on them.

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