Context: Gas stoves pollute residential kitchens

Posted by on Jan 31, 2021 in Design, Environmental | No Comments

Let’s start by saying the thing nobody who loves cooking wants to hear:

Gas stoves are bad for the environment and for humans in the kitchen and we should stop using them.

Yes, I know they are magic tools for controlling fire.  For decades I’ve passed on renting an apartment or a house simply because it didn’t have a gas stove.  Cooking on electric stoves is a pain.  Induction stoves won’t make a wok “f’n hot”.

I’m talking about residential gas stoves, not the stoves used in professional kitchens.  Unlike residences, professional kitchens do have codes for ventilation, fire control, and a other things related to workplace safety.

A couple of weeks ago I gave myself a severe CO headache after putting a gas stove on self clean.  It’s usually not a problem, I just open all the windows, but the day I did it the outside temp was in the mid-30s.  “I’ll just turn on the exhaust fan, it will be fine.”  It wasn’t.

I started doing some research about what happens when you use a natural gas stove and was surprised at how unregulated these appliances are in the US:

  • gas stoves generate NO2 and CO fumes
  • NO2 is really bad for your lungs says the EPA
  • there are no standards for indoor air pollution (in the US) but the amount of NO2 in outdoor air is regulated
  • the exhaust fan over your stove is probably cosmetic

The best resource I found is a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mothers Out Front, and Sierra Club: Health Effects from Gas Stove Pollution.

I can’t go buy a new induction stove *and* we just bought this stove a few years ago.  I need a workaround to let me know how clean the air is in the kitchen.  Oh, and I have adult onset asthma so really, I need to know how safe the air is in the kitchen.

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