Did you ever wonder what the controversy is about gas stoves? There is no controversy. Gas range tops are responsible for high levels of indoor pollution. But what should we do? The answer, change to an induction cooking top
Types of Indoor Cooking
You can imagine the first time cooking was brought indoors. Probably a fire inside a cave. It turns out that wasn't all that safe. The particulate matter from the wood not only increased the risk of lung disease, but also increased the transmission of respiratory illness.
Community houses, like this one for the Tlingit Nation from Southeast Alaska, had a fire pit in the center of the house. Your status in the community determined how close you would sit by the fire.
While the opening in the roof provided some ventilation, it was not enough.
Particulate Matter and Disease in Native Americans has been well studied. The lung damage from particulate matter predisposed Native Americans to pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, and smallpox.
The use of wooden stoves with a chimney, and contained fire, were the most popular stoves in America until after the Great Depression.
America was excited to go electric. But there is something primal about gas and electric cooking.
Cooking with Gas
The phrase cooking with gas was from the gas companies competing with electric companies for the new kitchen. The idea that gas was less expensive, faster, and you could see the flame became the basis for their campaign.
They were trying to compete with "clean electric"
Indoor pollutants with gas range tops
Products from indoor gas ranges are highly toxic to lung tissue. Those products
Even with the range off, gas escapes and pollutes the air indoors. Good ventilation decreases the exposure to gas. Most people do not like continuous fans. In addition to the methane, there is also benzene that escapes.
As soon as the United States Consumer Product Safety announced it was considering regulations for indoor gas cooking the vitriole started.
A Wall Street Journal Editorial stated "Don’t believe for a second Consumer Product Safety Commission member Richard Trumka Jr.’s slippery claim that they aren’t coming for your stove." She also went on to state that the research was paid for.
Jim Jordan, the Republican Congressman from Ohio tweeted, "God, Guns, and Gas Stoves."
Sean Hannity, that famous high school graduate stated that "Biden is coming for your gas stove."
On my tiktok channel I had lots of people parrot this.
I never knew so many old white men knew where the stove was? Let alone what it used for fuel
We have known about the dangers of nitrogen dioxide since the 1960's. (see here, here, here). Experimental data showed it cause lung damage in animal models, then it was associated with human studies. None of these researchers were concerned about climate change.
What can you do?
Even ventilation to the outdoor with a powerful hood may not decrease the nitrogen dioxide enough. And often you won't have the ventilation fan on when the stove is not on.
Converting to induction stovetop might be expensive, although there is currently a government tax incentive to do so.
Even though I just bought my house, and it came with a lovely gas stovetop, I am changing to induction. Until then, I am using my induction hotplates (I have two) for most cooking.