Early this year, a shocking study revealed that gas stoves cause one in eight cases of childhood asthma, in addition to contributing to a wide range of other health issues.
Now, new reporting from the accountability site DeSmog reveals that both the gas industry and the government knew about these risks as far back as 50 years ago. However, as Grist reports, the gas industry managed to cover up these health hazards for decades.
In 1972, the American Gas Association raised concerns about indoor air quality in a report on natural gas. The group showed evidence that gas appliances, such as gas stoves, were likely leaking poisonous carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into homes.
However, after this report went to the National Industrial Pollution Control Council, it was reviewed by a “government advisory council,” primarily made up of business executives in the industry who likely would lose money when the information went public, reports Grist. After the review, the concerns about in-home pollution were removed from the report.
Why are these findings a concern?
We have carbon monoxide detectors in our houses with the knowledge that too much of it is deadly, and the Environmental Protection Agency refers to nitrogen oxide as a “poisonous gas” and diligently regulates it.
The link between these gases and childhood asthma means that gas stoves are a partial reason for an increase in a chronic, debilitating, or sometimes deadly illness in children.
Asthma causes the lungs to become inflamed more easily and ranges in severity. According to Mayo Clinic, “childhood asthma is the leading cause of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and missed school days.”
What’s more, these gas stoves also release methane gas — and while researchers do not believe that methane is being leaked in amounts that are harmful to people, it is harmful to the environment.
These gases are planet-warming gases — and methane especially is a powerful driver of increasing global temperatures.
What can I do to help?
Now that the information is public, governments and organizations are making moves to reduce the use of gas appliances.
Some cities in the U.S. are attempting to “phase out” gas in current building projects and eventually transition off of it completely.
On a personal level, just getting the word out helps to create change. Even if you can’t replace your stove, it is important to share the knowledge and to keep it in mind if and when you do buy something new.
Electric stoves — particularly induction stoves, which cook faster and are easier to clean — are great alternatives that don’t release the toxic gases that we now know gas stoves create so much of.
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