Health Hazards of Gas Stoves

ImageAs the holiday season approaches, families often prepare special holiday meals with long traditions…and long cooking times too.  This can create problems for homes that have gas stoves.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, can pose significant health problems, especially when the stove is not well ventilated and cooking times are long as with many holiday meals such as hams, turkeys, pies, etc.  Methane is an asphyxiant, meaning it can reduce the amount of oxygen available in the air you breathe.  What happens to you if you do not get sufficient oxygen in the air you breathe?  You can develop dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and a wide variety of other symptoms.

Natural gas can also irritate your lungs.  Wheeze, phlegm, cough, and sore throat were more prevalent in workers using gas stoves than in workers using electric stoves.   Studies have shown that restaurant workers in kitchens with gas stoves had significantly worse lung function than workers in kitchens with electric stoves.  Increases in respiratory symptoms were also found in children living in homes with gas ranges.

Incomplete combustion of cooking gas can result in carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas.  Health effects of carbon monoxide exposure can range from viral-like syndromes like fatigue, dizziness, headaches, confusion, and nausea to more severe conditions of disorientation, unconsciousness, long term neurological disabilities, coma, cardio-respiratory failure, and death.  Because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and the symptoms are not specific, this exposure often goes undiagnosed.  Levels of carbon monoxide were found to be 1.6 times higher in kitchens with gas stoves compared to electric stoves.

ConclusionThe poor lung function and higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms among workers in gas-fueled kitchens compared to those in electrically-powered kitchens may be associated with exposure to higher concentrations of toxic air pollutants generated during gas cooking.

Gas water heaters, gas fireplaces, and gas furnaces can pose the same problems.  These appliances should be well ventilated to the outside of your home so no gas fumes enter your living space.  If you feel ill during the use of any gas-powered appliance, call your local utility company to make certain the appliance is running efficiently and is well ventilated.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

One Response to “Health Hazards of Gas Stoves”
  1. Mario E. Sprouse says:

    This is such an important topic, especially as we prepare for the holiday season. Also, as winter approaches, let’s make sure that our dwellings are well ventilated to significantly reduce the chances of toxic exposures. Stay well everybody!

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