Gas hobs could be worse for your lungs than polluted city streets



Cooking with a gas hob could be worse for our lungs than the dirty air of a polluted city street, it has been claimed.

Indoor air pollution is a growing field of research as scientists try to learn as much about pollutants inside as they do outside.

A study from RMI, a US-based nonprofit organization which wants to speed up the transition to renewable energy sources, found last month that “12.7 per cent of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use”.

The paper, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, also claimed that if no gas stoves were used then up to a fifth of childhood asthma cases could be prevented.

“One could argue that the risk associated with a gas stove is likely to be larger than living in a polluted city,” says Prof Steffen Loft, from the University of Copenhagen and who was not involved in the research, told NewScientist.

Previous studies show danger of indoor air pollution

Other scientists, like Jonathan Grigg, a professor of Pediatric Respiratory and Environmental Medicine at Queen Mary University London, say that it is difficult to compare outside nitrogen dioxide levels from car exhausts with an indoor stove’s emissions.

“I can’t say how bad exposure of a gas hob is compared to a roadside because obviously it depends on how long you cook for and where you are on a road,” he told The Telegraph.

Previous studies have shown that indoor air pollution could pose health concerns, especially for children.

Pollution from wood-burning stoves, for example, led to the creation of smokeless fuels and restrictions on what can and cannot be burned.

Prof Grigg told The Telegraph that more is emerging about the harms of other indoor pollution sources, such as nitrogen dioxide from gas stoves.

“It’s been known for some time and there’s increasing evidence that indoor nitrogen dioxide is associated with the development of asthma, for example,” he said.

“Long term exposure is associated with the development of respiratory diseases such as asthma.”

‘We need to sort out indoor air quality’

He added that living in an all-gas home, compared to a home with no gas at all, likely increases the likelihood of an adult getting persistent asthma by a factor of five.

“Five times increased risk is pretty significant in the grand scheme of things,” Prof Grigg said.

“Everyone knows that nitrous dioxide from traffic is bad for you. We know that. What perhaps is not as well known is that cooking gas is a very powerful source of nitrogen dioxide.

“We really need to sort out indoor air quality because a lot of children and people are spending a huge amount of time indoors. It’s not like switching to all electric cars, switching over to an electric hob is certainly achievable.

“We need to clear out the gas cooking hobs with electric hobs, in my view. I think that would make a big difference to the quality of indoor air, that’s for sure.”

Prof Grigg, who co-authored a paper on the effects of indoor air pollution on children for the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in 2020, believes the era of the gas hob is coming to an end, and compared its imminent demise to that of the petrol-powered car.

“Gas cooking is going the way of the petrol car. It’s going to go sooner or later and it probably needs to go sooner,” he said.

“The combination of electric induction cooking with adequate ventilation is probably the most sustainable and safest form of cooking.”


www.telegraph.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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