STANFORD, Calif. — Every time you turn on a gas stove, your risk of blood cancer could be increasing, a new study warns. Stanford University researchers say these furnaces release benzene, a chemical linked to an increased risk of leukemia and other blood cancers. They found that a single gas stove burner or oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit can increase levels of this chemical more than second-hand smoke. Benzene can even stay for hours and travel throughout the home.

“Benzene is formed in flames and other high-temperature environments, such as the flares found in oil fields and refineries. We now know that benzene also forms in the flames of gas furnaces in our homes,” says senior study author Rob Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor and Professor of Earth System Sciences at Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability, in a university news release. . “Good ventilation helps reduce pollutant concentrations, but we found that exhaust fans were often ineffective in preventing benzene exposure.

The team even found that benzene concentrations measured in bedrooms, which are typically further from the kitchen, were higher than national and international health standards. Even more troubling is that the range hoods and exhaust fans don’t seem to drop the intensity consistently.

Scroll down to see 4 ways to reduce your exposure to chemicals from gas furnaces

Gas stove with flames on pot and pan
(Photo: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

This article is the first to analyze benzene emissions when a gas stove or oven is in use. In the past, studies have detected leaks from stoves when they are turned off and did not actually measure benzene concentrations. Another Stanford study also found that gas-burning stoves inside US homes leak methane and expose users to pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems. A 2013 meta-analysis found that children who live in homes with a gas stove have a 42 percent higher risk of developing asthma than children who do not, and a 2022 analysis found that 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States is attributable to gas. radiators.

This study found that gas and propane burners and furnaces emit 10 to 50 times more benzene than electric furnaces. Induction cooktops did not emit any detectable amounts at all. During a fire, the release rate was hundreds of times higher than the benzene release rate reported in other studies from unburned gas leaks in homes. The researchers also looked at whether certain foods that were cooked would release benzene and found that none were released when pan-frying bacon or salmon. Emissions were related to fuel used, not food cooked.

“I’m renting an apartment that has an electric stove,” says study leader Yannai Kashtan, a graduate student in geosystems. “Before I started this research, I never thought twice about it, but the more we learn about pollution from gas stoves, the easier it is for me to live without a gas stove.

Not everyone can live without a gas stove or can afford to completely convert their kitchen to electric, but there are effective ways to reduce your exposure:

  • Use a portable induction cooktop, which can be found for under $50.
  • Use electric kitchen appliances, such as tea kettles, toaster ovens and slow cookers.
  • Where available, use state and local rebates as well as low or no-interest loans to offset the cost of replacing your gas appliance.
  • Federal tax credits are available now and federal credits will soon be available to help offset the cost of replacing gas appliances.

The results are published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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