Have you started wondering about the the impact of gas cooking on your health and that of your family?
You are not alone. On the contrary, your are part of a growing number of people that have started to question the health effects of cooking with gas.
To find out what’s going on, just keep on reading!
In this article I will discuss:
Cooking with gas has become really popular. Numerous world class chefs prefer cooking this way.
The reasons include better temperature control, versatility, efficiency and convenience.
You can read this article to learn more about the dynamics of cooking with gas vs electricity.
In the article I found gas to be the better way to cook.
Well, that is if you consider the actual cooking factors mentioned in the article.
But as with everything in life, you have to have a holistic view of things.
Consider all the aspects.
And unfortunately, when you start looking into the health aspects of gas cooking in terms of air pollution, things start to look a bit different. Not all bad, but there are some factors you will have to consider.
Let’s dig in a bit deeper.
The definition of air pollution is the presence of particles or substances in the air that is harmful to living organism or can cause damage to materials or the environment.
Any form of combustion releases particles into the air and the surrounding environment. Burning wood, gas, diesel or anything similar falls into this category.
Unfortunately, that also includes the burning of “clean” fuels like natural gas or LP gas.
The main pollutants that form from burning gas is nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Of these, nitrogen dioxide is the worst with carbon monoxide in second place.
Better insulation in homes is another factor that adds to the increased levels of pollutants inside homes.
When homes are better insulated, there is less ventilation except for purposefully installed systems for this purpose.
In smaller homes it is even worse given the limited volume of air that dilutes pollutants.
Gas stoves are nothing more than devices that uses the heat formed by the burning of gas to heat pots and pans.
Because there is the burning of gas, all of the substances mentioned above gets released into the air.
Compared to homes with electric stoves, homes with gas stoves have approximately 50% higher levels of nitrogen dioxide.
According to this report by four research and advocacy groups, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Mothers Out Front and Sierra Club, “gas stoves may be exposing tens of millions of people to levels of air pollution in their homes that would be illegal outdoors under national air quality standards”.
Effects of cooking with gas on your health
As mentioned earlier, the negative health effects of cooking with gas are due to the pollutants released into the air (nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide).
There are a range of negative health effects of exposure to these pollutants. These are even more severe when it comes to children.
In children, these effects may include:
- Decreased learning abilities and cognitive function
- Irritated airways
- Increased susceptibility to lung infections
- Decreased tissue antioxidant defenses
- Changed lung function
- Aggravated respiratory symptoms like chest tightness, difficulty breathing and coughing
- Increased risk of asthma
- Cardiovascular effects
- Increased susceptibility to allergens
There are several reasons why children are more susceptible to illnesses associated with air pollution:
- Immature respiratory systems
- Immature immune systems
- Higher lung surface to body weight ratios
- Smaller bodies
- Higher breathing rates
- Greater levels of physical activity
How to reduce pollution from your gas stove
So yes, cooking with gas causes air pollution in your home which in turn has negative health effects.
You have to remember, though, that just by heating food, particles are released into the air which adds to the harmful particles floating around. More so if you burn something in a pot or pan.
These particles range from particulate matter 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) to smaller particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5). You will even find instances where ultrafine particles 100 nanometers in diameter gets released.
There are ways, though, to reduce the risk of air pollution in your kitchen and home and you may even be able to completely eliminate it.
Remove the gas stove
If you choose so, the best way to eliminate the risks associated with a gas stove is to get rid of the gas stove altogether.
If you are not inclined to take such a drastic step, don’t worry, there are other ways you can go about this.
The first line of defense against the buildup of pollutants in the kitchen, is good ventilation.
Some people doubt this, though.
There are four reasons for their doubts.
- Many people with gas stoves don’t have extractor fans or range hoods installed
- A lot of homes have them but they are not being used, simply because they are noisy or people forget to switch them on
- Many of the existing fans or extractors only recirculate the air instead of venting it outside
- Extractor fans differ in performance and efficacy
Considering the above, one of the ways to reduce air pollutants from your gas stove in your kitchen is to install a better quality modern range hood over your stove.
This will ensure that the maximum number of harmful particles gets extracted from the air above the stove while cooking.
It’s important to remember to have the hood vented to the outside of the house. As mentioned earlier, many extractor fans are just recirculating the air. It’s also important to select the right size range hood.
It’s also a very good idea to get low level carbon monoxide detectors installed. In fact, they are already required by law in 27 US states.
The health risks involved with cooking with gas certainly can’t be denied.
The pollutants from gas cooking do pose serious threats when left unchecked and ignored.
Many people focus on this when arguing against the use of gas for cooking.
Too often the other side of the argument is unfortunately ignored.
As with so many other dangerous activities in life, there are ways to minimise or completely eliminate these risks.
That is the same with cooking with gas.
Given all of the above, the fact remains: harmful pollutants are formed when gas is being used for cooking.
With a worldwide drive towards greener energy, you have to wonder what the future of gas looks like…..