Gas vs. Electric Stoves & Impact on Air Quality
When faced with the choice between a gas- or electric-powered stove, it may be a no-brainer. Maybe your mom taught you to cook on a propane stove. Or maybe the best roast chicken you ever made came from a trusty electric oven. Is it a matter of cost? Does the style or aesthetic of one appeal to you more?
Whatever side of the debate you’re on, or whether you’re indifferent, this post provides information about your stove’s impact on indoor air quality and how choosing one over the other could benefit your overall long-term health even if it means parting with your “old faithful.”
An Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) study concluded that concerns over the health impact of indoor pollutants is on par with that of car accidents and is greater than concerns over secondhand smoke or radon! So, for those concerned with indoor air quality, even a decision like choosing a gas stove over an electric stove can be a big one.
The truth is that both gas and electric stoves emit particulate matter, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when frying, grilling or toasting foods. The smell we associate with burnt fats or oils (and may have grown accustomed to growing up!) is a strong indicator of the harmful pollutants released during cooking.
What differs between a gas and electric stove is the percentage of indoor concentrations they emit. The EHP study estimates that gas burners add 25 to 33% to the average weekly indoor NO2 concentrations during the summer and 35 to 39% in winter due less ventilation. Gas stoves contribute 30% of CO to the indoor air in the summer and 21% in the winter.
These studies were conducted with the use of a ventilation range hoods in place. Importantly, when homes did not use vents, the exposures exceeded federal and state health-based standards for concentration levels.
If you’re worried about the pollutants emitted from gas cooking, consistent use of an exhaust or vent hood is important, but unfortunately they are unable to capture all pollutants and can be extremely noisy. Another solution is switching from gas to electric if you’re extremely concerned. While it may not solve all our indoor pollutant issues, it is a start.
If you’re curious how high VOC concentration levels in your indoor air may be from cooking on your gas stove and want to test, a DIY environmental testing kit like the yogi can provide the results you need to take action.