TechResearch finds gas stoves emit leukemia-linked benzene, prompting change at Stanford

Research finds gas stoves emit leukemia-linked benzene, prompting change at Stanford

gas, gas stove, energy industry
gas, gas stove, energy industry
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Meurer Fotografie
6:58 AM EST, November 27, 2023

Stanford University Professor, Rob Jackson, had a compelling reason to remove the gas stove from his own home. His decision came on the heels of a concerning discovery his team made during a research project. Their findings, published in the esteemed journal "Environmental Science & Technology", revealed the harmful substances that can be emitted from gas stoves.

Under Professor Jackson's guidance, the scientists found that operating gas stoves can release significant amounts of benzene. This chemical substance has been linked to the development of leukemia and other blood cancers. While passive smokers can also absorb benzene through exposure to cigarette smoke, the concentrations caused by gas stoves can be considerably higher.

"Watching the concentration of pollutants rise so rapidly in my own home, and contemplating its repeated occurrence, became my motivation for change", admitted Professor Jackson during a media conversation. His research findings propelled his decision to remove the gas stove from his home.

Benzene, a combustion byproduct produced in flames, is a common pollutant. People are typically exposed to it through tobacco smoke, forest fires, and even general smog. Regrettably, it's one of the most potent carcinogens prevalent in the air.

In Professor Jackson's study, 87 homes in California and Colorado, which primarily used gas and propane stoves, were assessed. In approximately 30 percent of cases, the emission of benzene from a high-temperature burner or a gas oven operating at 356 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in a higher benzene concentration in the air than passive smoking.

Studies carried out in June this year further showed that the effects of benzene contamination weren't just confined to the kitchen. The gas also permeated into other rooms, including bedrooms. In poorly ventilated rooms, hazardous concentrations of benzene lingered for many hours, even long after the gas stove had been switched off.

The research also revealed that neither the age nor the brand of a stove significantly influenced the volume of benzene produced. Although a decent ventilation system can help to reduce benzene exposure, not all kitchen hoods proved effective at removing it. Some models actually recirculate the contaminated air instead of venting it out, reintroducing it into the home environment.

The findings of these studies support arguments made by activists advocating for the removal of gas installations from buildings. Compared to their natural gas or propane counterparts, electric stoves emit 10 to 25 times less benzene. Moreover, induction stoves do not emit benzene at all. Previous studies have indicated that gas stove usage is linked to almost 13 percent of childhood asthma cases in the US.

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