According to a new study, gas stoves pose a health risk and have a greater impact on the environment than previously thought

28th January, 2022.      //   Climate Change  // 

New research demonstrates that the gas generated by residential stoves and ovens is not only harmful to public health, but also has a significantly greater impact on the climate issue than previously anticipated.

Stanford University researchers discovered that the emissions from gas stoves in US households had the same climate-warming impact as half a million gasoline-powered cars, significantly more than previously thought.

Gas stoves and ovens emit more planet-warming gases than scientists previously knew, according to a new study.

Gas stoves and ovens emit more planet-warming gases than scientists previously knew, according to a new study.

‘There is no such thing as clean gas,’ said Lee Ziesche, community engagement coordinator for Sane Energy, a non-profit climate justice organization that was not engaged in the study. ‘This new study verifies what environmentalists have been saying for over a decade now,’ said Lee Ziesche. “Fracking gas is hurting our health and warming the earth from the drilling well to the burners in our kitchens.”

The major component of natural gas, methane, is a powerful greenhouse gas. According to scientists, it is roughly 80 times more strong than carbon dioxide in the short term. With no range hoods or poor ventilation, the quantity of dangerous nitrogen oxides — a consequence of natural gas combustion — can quickly reach or exceed a safe level, especially in tiny kitchens, according to the study. Whether they’re on or off, gas stoves and ovens emit a lot of methane, which contributes to global warming. The study estimates stoves release 0.8% to 1.3% of their natural gas into the atmosphere as unburned methane.

When combined with the quantity of methane released during the gas’s production and transfer, it’s a “very significant number,” according to Eric Lebel, the study’s lead author.
According to Lebel, who conducted the research as a graduate student at Stanford University and is now a senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, “if someone says they don’t use their stove and thus they’re not actually emitting any methane, that’s actually not true because most of the stoves that we measured had at least a slow bleed of methane while they were off.”

For nitrogen oxides, or NOx, which pose an especially harmful risk to children and the elderly, Lebel said they found the emissions are directly proportional to how much gas is burned.
“So if you turn another burner on, use a bigger burner, or turn it higher, all these things will create more NOx,” Lebel said. The concentration of those gases is “dependent on how big your kitchen is, what your ventilation is in your kitchen, all those things matter.”

The study comes as a growing number of US cities, including certain places in California, New York and Massachusetts, are shifting away from including natural gas hookups in new homes. Green energy advocates argue that switching from gas to electric appliances will ease the transition to renewable energy. Electric appliances, according to this study, avoid the harmful byproducts of burning natural gas.
According to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration, there were more than 40 million gas stoves in US households in 2015, though the proportion of gas stoves in some regions is higher than others.
The study also suggests that the federal government is underestimating the amount of methane emissions leaking from homes, which the researchers found was 15% higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate for all residential emissions in 2019.
“This new study is a really great example of how widespread the sources of greenhouse gas pollution are,” Charles Koven, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is not involved with the study, told the press.

Researcher Eric Lebel attaches sensors to a stove to measure how often it is used.

Researcher Eric Lebel attaches sensors to a stove to measure how often it is used.

“Getting to net zero isn’t a matter of replacing just the cars or just the power plants that burn fossil fuels with alternatives that don’t,” he added. “We need to look at everything that uses fossil fuels, even the sources as seemingly small as leaky gas pipes that power the stoves in our kitchens, and realize that all of these tiny sources can add up to big climate impacts.”
Methane emissions were a focus in a major UN climate report in August, in which Koven was a lead author. Scientists found the concentration of methane in the atmosphere is higher now than any time in at least 800,000 years — and that reducing methane is the easiest knob to turn to change the path of global temperature in the next 10 years.

Because it is more efficient than coal and emits less carbon dioxide when burned, natural gas has been praised as a “bridge fuel” that would help the United States shift to renewable energy. However, some experts believe that plan underestimates the impact of it leaking into the atmosphere unburned and causing severe warming.

According to Lebel, he believes that legislators will take advantage of their findings in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve the health of equipment.
“It’s not just a climate issue, it’s not just a health issue, it’s both,” he remarked. People should think about climatic and health implications, as well as the benefits of electrification, when considering whether or not to put out a gas ban, and it appears that the science backs up what they’re saying.”

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