Gas stoves are bad for your health and the planet, study finds

Photo (c) Géza Bálint Ujvárosi EyeEm - Getty Images

Experts say hood vents can help lessen some of the harmful effects

More than 40 million U.S. households use natural gas stoves, and researchers from Stanford University say they present a problem for both the public’s health and the global environment.

A new study suggests that gas stoves have the same negative impact as methane gas emissions from a half-million cars over the course of 20 years. And that's true regardless of whether the stove is on or off. 

Researchers say consumers who have a gas stove are also causing themselves plenty of harm. Their findings suggest that these appliances release air pollutants into a home’s air and can trigger respiratory diseases such as asthma.

“Among all gas appliances, the stove is unique in that the byproducts of combustion are emitted directly into home air with no requirement for venting the exhaust outdoors,” the researchers stated. “In fact, some kitchens have ‘ductless’ hoods that recirculate fumes through activated charcoal filters, which are generally less effective at cleaning the air.”

Vent hoods and other solutions

While switching out your gas stove for an alternative could solve the issue, the researchers say using a vented hood is also another viable option.

“Vented hoods have a range of effectiveness and function best when overhanging the stove,” they said. “Because exhaust hoods are separate from the stove and must be operated manually, vented hoods in practice are used only 25–40% of the time.”

What can someone do short of installing a hood? How do you vent a kitchen without a hood? Chicago-based chef Paul Kahan suggests these six things in his latest gas range vent guide:

  • Use a window fan
  • Use a portable HEPA air filter
  • Use a fan in another room, like the bathroom
  • Get a grease splatter guard
  • Wipe down your kitchen cabinets frequently
  • If you paint your kitchen, use a satin or semi-gloss finish, or choose scrubbable paint

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