Health Hazards of Cooking With Natural Gas

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This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Both amateur and professional cooks alike love cooking with natural gas. But although these stoves provide cooking flexibility, they emit chemicals that are harming your health.

A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds gas stoves give off unhealthy levels of noxious combustible by-products. After collecting data on homes in Southern California, researchers estimated the levels of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and formaldehyde the average home cook who uses a natural gas range is exposed to daily.

Emissions of CO and formaldehyde were generally low, but emissions of NO2 surpassed the acceptable limits for outdoor air established by the Environmental Protection Agency. This means cooks are being exposed to an even greater concentration, since indoor home cooking is done in an enclosed setting. No public health organization sets limits for indoor air quality.

Health Hazards of Natural Gas

These odorless and colorless emissions can cause inflammation of the lungs, narrowing the breathing passages and complicating existing lung conditions. The pollutants can exacerbate allergies, and regular exposure can lead to asthma, wheezing and chronic cough along with bronchitis and respiratory infections.

In 1996, The Lancet reported that the use of gas stoves was linked to impaired lung function, particularly in young women. Moreover, women who used gas stoves experienced twice the amount of respiratory problems of women who used electric stoves.

Dr. Gopal Allada, pulmonologist at Oregon Health and Science University, tells KATU News that long-term exposure can worsen diseases like pneumonia and emphysema. The emissions can even aggravate heart disease, he adds.

Those who are chemically sensitive are especially vulnerable to the emissions. Natural gas can worsen chemical sensitivity, leading to intolerance and more adverse reactions to the gas itself as well as to other chemicals in the environment. A study shows that when gas stoves were removed from the homes of people afflicted with this malady, their health and the health of their family members improved.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When you own a gas stove, the possibility for CO poisoning is always present. Tragically, this event claims the lives of 500 Americans each year. Initial symptoms include breathlessness and headache. Continued exposure can lead to extreme fatigue, dizziness and nausea in addition to confusion and incoordination. Prolonged exposure can cause fainting and death. Be sure you have a CO detector in the kitchen.

9 Ways to Minimize Your Risk

1. Always turn on the fan when you cook and keep it on the highest setting.

2. Cook on your back burners because you are cooking directly under your range hood.

3. If your fan vents back into the house rather than to the outside, open a window.

4. Cook with a blue gas flame. If you see an orange flame, it means you need to have your stove adjusted properly.

5. Have a qualified contractor inspect your gas range and keep it maintained.

6. For those renovating their homes, a conduction cooktop is an improvement. It uses magnetic energy so you will not have noxious combustion by-products. However, you will still have some pollution from heating food and cooking oil, as in all types of stoves.

7. Do not use your gas range to heat your home.

8. Do not line the inside bottom of the oven with aluminum foil.

9. Make sure your gas appliance is design certified and installed to code.

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