Have a Gas Stove? Don't Panic—Here's How to Make This Hotly Debated Appliance Safer

While studies have shown gas stoves emit harmful gasses, like methane and nitrogen oxides, there are a few ways you can make the appliance safer for you and the environment.

An interior view of a taupe, champagne coloured fitted kitchen diner with gold handles, quartz island, gas stove, toaster
Photo: John Keeble / GETTY IMAGES

Gas stoves have been a staple appliance in households across the country for decades. Not only do they offer superb temperature control, but gas stoves are also seen as a more cost effective alternative to electric. But despite some of their pros, many studies have shown that gas stoves have quite a few cons—they can be harmful to your health and the environment. If you have one in your home and aren't ready to make the switch to a conduction or elective stovetop, there are some steps you can take to make your gas stove safer.

How Gas Stoves Affect Your Health

Gas stoves release indoor air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) when used for cooking. "Nitrogen dioxide, a NOx gas, is an irritant that can lead to asthma, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, particularly for children and the elderly," says Rob Jackson, environmental scientist and professor at Stanford University.

According to a study published in American Chemical Society Publications, children exposed to gas cooking are 42 percent more likely to have lifelong asthma. Additionally, a 2022 study conducted by Jackson and other Stanford researchers found that some gas stoves release nitrogen dioxide levels above the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How Gas Stoves Affect the Environment

The emissions gas stoves release into the atmosphere also have a negative impact on the environment. "Gas stoves warm the planet by releasing carbon dioxide pollution and leaking unburned methane into the air," says Jackson. The Stanford study also found that annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in the United States have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500,000 cars.

The researchers also found that methane—a major greenhouse gas—is even emitted from gas stoves when they're turned off. "In this study, we estimated that emissions from steady-state-off were responsible for 76 percent of all methane emissions from gas stoves," the study states.

How to Make Your Gas Stove Safer

Despite their drawbacks, there is a way to make gas stoves safer and reduce your risk of being exposed to harmful gasses.

Run Your Exhaust Fan

Running your exhaust fan while cooking is one way to improve the ventilation in your kitchen and reduce the risks of indoor air pollution—but certain exhaust fans do this more effectively than others. "Some hoods ventilate air outdoors. These are the best kind to own," says Jackson. "However, many others simply recirculate the air and pollutants back into the kitchen."

Open the Windows

Double down on ventilation by opening a window while cooking with a gas stove. "Opening a window helps to dilute indoor air pollution by bringing in cleaner air from outside the home," says Jackson. This is especially useful if you have a range hood that recirculates the air, rather than filters it outside of the home.

Use an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are a well known way to improve the overall air quality of your home. According to the EPA, air purifiers and HVAC filters can reduce indoor air pollution, but they cannot remove all pollutants from the air. In order to keep your air purifier running efficiently, you must clean it and its internal air filter regularly.

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