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Cooking with gas worse for health than living in polluted city: study

Researchers say gas stoves are a major source of indoor air pollution.

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Gas burning from a kitchen gas stove
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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Cooking with gas is worse for your health than living in a polluted city, according to new research.

TV chefs prefer the stoves to electric alternatives - like most professionals.

But they produce nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter – dangerous toxins found in traffic fumes, say scientists.

They irritate the lungs and can get into the bloodstream - increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Children and older people are most vulnerable.

One study found gas stoves cause spikes in indoor air many times the levels on a busy city street.

Children went to school wearing backpacks kitted out with air pollution monitors, reports New Scientist.

Happy and healthy woman living with HIV boiling eggs for breakfast in her kitchen
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Professor Frank Kelly, of Imperial College London, said: "Many of the children were actually exposed to more pollution at home in the evenings, when one of the parents was cooking, than what they actually were seeing on the way to school."

Another study suggested one in eight cases of childhood asthma in the U.S. are due to the use of gas cookers.

Prof Kelly, who was not involved in that work, says they are a "major source of indoor air pollution."

They can exacerbate or even cause asthma and other health conditions.

Prof Kelly said: "If the household has got an asthmatic child, they will have more symptoms than if they didn't have a gas stove."


Focus on indoor air pollution is only just starting to catch up with its outdoor counterpart owing to challenges in shrinking measuring equipment.

Another study found residents of southern California using gas stove tops are routinely exposed to nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde levels that exceed safety thresholds for outdoor pollution set by U.S. authorities.

The problem is worse in smaller homes without adequate ventilation.

Prof. Steffen Loft, of Copenhagen University, said: "One could argue the risk associated with a gas stove is likely to be larger than living in a polluted city."

Gas cookers are also fuelling global warming. A study in the US found methane leaking from the stoves in the US has a climate impact comparable with the carbon dioxide emissions from about 500,000 petrol cars.

kitchen and cooking concept - burning gas stove flame
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In the European Union, cooking on gas may be exposing over 100 million people to levels of indoor air pollution that would violate EU outdoor air pollution regulations, NGO Clasp reported this month.

It is calling for all gas stoves to come with health warning labels.

By 2025, no new homes in the UK will be built with fossil fuel heating, a move that will almost certainly mean them having electric induction stoves.

In the US, President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act will offer households subsidies of up to $1,340 to switch from a gas to an induction stove.

Researchers agree that if people have the opportunity, they should change to electric cookers.

This is a "relatively easy way of reducing your particulate matter and nitrogen oxide exposure," said Prof. Nicola Carslaw at the University of York.

In the meantime, opening a window and using an extractor fan can make an immediate difference to indoor air quality, she says.

Effective cooker hoods that vent to the outside can cut pollution levels by 55 percent, studies suggest.

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