TULSA, Okla. — New studies show chemicals emitted from gas appliances could be harmful to your health, but there are differing opinions about this warning.
Amber Sheppard says she prefers to cook on a gas stove.
“I’ve always had a gas stove,” Sheppard says.
“I prefer it very much rather than electric.”
Families cook on gas stoves in about 40% of American homes.
A new study by the Rocky Mountain Institute says gas appliances like stoves are sources of indoor air pollution.
The combustion of natural gas emits gases like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde.
The report says those pollutants can have negative health effects, often exacerbating respiratory conditions like asthma. The report says children are more susceptible to illnesses associated with air pollution than adults.
Barbara VanHanken is a member of Green Country’s Environmental Sierra Club.
“It’s a problem inside that people don’t recognize,” VanHanken said.
She says indoor air pollution is just as concerning but not as talked about as outdoor pollution.
“It’s actually more important because we spend more time in our homes,” VanHanken said.
VanHanken says she chooses to use electric appliances in her home.
She says besides the gases emitted from the flame, something else is floating into the air in your home too.
“You have particular matters also emitted into the air from combustion. These very tiny particles that go in the air,” VanHanken said.
“It gets inside your lungs and clogs your breathing ability in your lungs. When things are hard on your lungs they’re hard on your heart.”
Oklahoma Natural Gas Spokesperson Dawn Tripp has a very different point of view.
“We do not support some of the recent claims that have been published. In fact, we assert natural gas is safe to use for a range of household appliances. It increases energy efficiency, and it helps reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions,” Tripp said.
“The U.S. EPA, as well as Consumer Product Safety Commission, have not identified any health risks with operation of natural gas appliances and concerns for indoor air quality.”
FOX23 asked the EPA about gas stoves.
“Gas stoves... can be sources of pollutants called combustion products, which can include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles,” the EPA said in an emailed response.
The cumulative evidence was enough for the New England Journal of Medicine to publish an editorial in January recommending that “new gas appliances be removed from the market.”
About 40 cities and towns in California have now banned natural gas in new construction. Starting in June, any new buildings and homes in San Francisco must also all be electric. Gas appliances won’t be allowed.
“I completely disagree,” Sheppard said.
“I don’t have any concerns. I’ve always had a gas stove. I’m about to be 46.”
Experts say one way to help with indoor air pollution is to open your windows to let in the fresh air.
The EPA says if you’re cooking on a gas stove, make sure it’s properly installed and well-maintained. Experts say to use your vent hood.
“Use it when you’re cooking and get all the emissions from cooking on the gas stove directed outdoors,” VanHanken said.
“That helps clean up the inside air.”
VanHanken says make sure the ventilation is actually going outside and not just into your attic. The need for good ventilation is the one thing everyone seems to agree on.
“Proper ventilation is key,” Tripp says.
“What we’ve learned is it’s the act of cooking itself that relates more to indoor air quality, so certainly proper kitchen ventilation of reducing impacts of air quality while cooking.”
Sheppard says she uses her vent hood when she cooks. In fact, with her newer model, the vent hood comes on automatically when she uses her gas stove.
VanHanken says it’s just about providing information and then letting people decide for themselves.
“I’d say you have a choice. if you know the info and you know the risks then the choice is yours if you want to add that level of protection to your family,” VanHanken said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that every home have carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on each level outside each sleeping area.
In addition, CPSC urges consumers to have an annual professional inspection of all fuel-burning appliances -- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, and space heaters -- to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
For more about these recommendations, click here.
For more information on how carbon monoxide impacts indoor air quality, click here.