Love your gas stove? So do a lot of professional chefs and home cooks, who insist gas just cooks better. But while both gas and electric stoves have benefits and pitfalls, Consumer Reports did a deep dive into the performance of each type of stove and found that overall, electric stoves heat up food faster, broil better, and simmer more steadily than gas ranges. And that’s good news for those who worry about the safety of cooking with gas—but also worry that an electric stove won’t produce the quality of cooking they’re looking for.
Does that mean it’s time to switch to electric? Maybe. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air could be two to five times—and in some cases, up to 100 times—more polluted than outdoor air, and gas stoves could be a major culprit. Here’s what you should know about the types of pollutants your gas stoves can emit into your home—and what you can do to reduce those contaminants and their impact on your health.
Is your Gas Stove Releasing Pollutants Into Your Home?
Natural gas stoves release a variety of harmful pollutants into the air. You might not be able to see them, but they could be quietly contributing to health issues.
One of the biggest dangers of gas stoves is nitrogen dioxide, a combination of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are gasses produced when fuel burns. If you run your gas stove without a range hood, your exposure to nitrogen dioxide goes well beyond the national standard for safe outdoor exposure—let alone safe indoor exposure. This gas irritates your respiratory system and can contribute to or worsen asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses.
You’ve probably heard of carbon monoxide poisoning. What you might not know is that cooking with your gas stove could contribute to it. Your body can start replacing oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide, leading to blurred vision, loss of consciousness, tissue damage, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in embalming fluid. But did you know that your gas stove could also release this dangerous gas into your home? High levels of exposure can cause everything from myeloid leukemia to nasopharynx cancer.
Even if your gas stove is regularly serviced by a licensed technician, it still emits unburned natural gas into your home. Benzene is a known carcinogen that can cause anemia, drowsiness, headaches, and tremors.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, commonly known as VOCs, are gasses emitted from certain liquids like industrial chemicals and petroleum fuels. Benzene and formaldehyde are two examples of VOCs, but your gas stove may also release other types of VOCs. VOC exposure can lead to headaches, eye irritation, liver damage, and cancer.
Particulate Matter 2.5
The negative health effects caused by gas stoves can involve fine particulate matter, too. The “2.5” in “PM2.5” refers to their size: less than two-and-a-half microns in diameter. These tiny particles float around your kitchen as you whip up your bangers and mash. Short-term exposure causes throat irritation, leading to sneezing or coughing. Over time, it can worsen conditions like chronic bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.
8 Other Ways to Reduce the Risks Associated with Gas Stoves
Keep these helpful tips in mind to protect yourself and your family from the harmful gasses and particles released by gas stoves.
- If possible, switch to an electric stove.
- Always turn on your range hood fan (on high) before anything hits the pan.
- Ventilate! Open nearby windows and crack the kitchen door if possible.
- Upgrade your HVAC system so it features continuous outdoor air ventilation.
- Change your HVAC filter every one to three months.
- Change your air purifier’s HEPA and carbon/VOC filters regularly too—and if your air purifier isn’t an AirDoctor, consider investing in one for far cleaner air than you’ll get with any other model.
- Cook using the back burners on your stove rather than the front ones.
- Make sure the outside vents from your range hood are clear.
Can an Air Purifier Remove Gas Stove Emissions from Your Air?
Don’t kick your gas stove to the curb just yet. Let’s take a look at air purifiers and go over some of the benefits they might provide for homes with gas stoves.
Major Types of Air Purifiers
There are two main types of air purifiers: portable and HVAC or furnace filters.
Portable air purifiers are exactly what they sound like. They can range in size, but you can easily move them from room to room. Because they’re smaller, they’re only meant to clean a single area. Consider placing one next to your gas stove for increased ventilation.
Portable air purifiers may utilize HEPA filters, ion generation, or panel filters with activated carbon.
By contrast, HVAC air purifiers are installed in your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. The advantage is that they can filter and provide clean air to many parts of your home. The downside is that they only work when the HVAC system is running to circulate air. You also can’t direct it toward a known source of dangerous gasses and particles, like your gas stove. It’s important to note that HVAC air filters aren’t as effective as portable air purifiers.
What Does My Air Purifier Need to Be Effective?
Not all air purifiers are made equal, and as a result, not all of them will be equally effective in trapping and eliminating problematic pollutants. Top-rated air purifiers must meet certain specifications to remove those gasses and particles from the air. If you’re unsure which type of air purifier is best, check out our blog post on what to look for in an air purifier.
Breathe a Sigh of Relief with AirDoctor
Cooking up a delicious meal to enjoy with friends and family is a source of great joy—frustratingly complicated chicken casserole recipe aside. Get the powerful purification you need with AirDoctor by your side. With AirDoctor, you only need to worry about mastering your plating skills for supper.
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