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Gas stoves can lead to unhealthy air inside homes, expert warns

A gas stove could make the air inside your home unhealthy.

PORTLAND, Ore — As we shut our windows and insulate our homes for the fall and winter, a warning from air quality experts: That gas stove you're using could be making the air inside your home unhealthy.

Jamie Pang wanted to know just how unhealthy. She uses her gas stove at least once a day, usually twice.

But as she does it, she also monitors the air quality inside her home.

An air quality monitor she purchased online tracks the levels of certain gases and sends the information to an app on Pang's phone.

"So you can get the readings in real time from the app," she said. "I'm finding out, first hand, the problems of the gas stoves."

That's because every time you turn on your gas stove, gases like carbon dioxide are released into the air along with tiny particles you can't see but might be breathing in.

Pang is the environmental health program director for Oregon Environmental Council.

She worries not only about what these gases are doing to the climate but also to her health.

During the wildfires, when she had to keep her home closed up in order to keep the smoke out, the monitor showed her indoor air quality was not good at all.

"We had headaches, nausea, fatigues," she recalled. "I felt out of breath and was like wheezing." 

Even in the 20 minutes it took Pang to cook lunch, the carbon dioxide level in her home rose into the red zone.

"The air quality is bad because there's too much carbon dioxide," she said.

Dr. Richard Corsi is an internationally recognized expert on indoor air quality. He said, along with CO-2, nitrogen dioxides are also a big concern when cooking with a gas stove.

"People who cook a lot with natural gas tend to have very high nitrogen dioxide levels in their homes and that can exacerbate asthma and respiratory problems and those types of things," he said. "In terms of emissions during cooking, electric is better." 

Dr. Corsi said Pang is doing the right thing by turning on the exhaust hood on her range and opening a window.

He said if you can't replace your gas stove with electric, good ventilation is key.

It might mean a little cold air coming in during the winter time, but it will make for safer air to breathe inside.  

Air quality monitors can be purchased online and cost anywhere from about $80 and up.