Gas stoves can leak chemicals linked to cancer, mounting evidence shows
The amount of benzene present, the ventilation level in the room, the size of the kitchen, and whether or not the stoves leaked when they were off were also taken into account when calculating a household's benzene exposure. The findings demonstrated that the stoves with the worst leaks subjected persons to indoor benzene concentrations up to seven times higher than the limit considered safe by the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Although researchers are still learning about how benzene impacts health, prolonged exposure may raise a person's risk of blood diseases or reproductive problems.
More well established links between the substance and leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma exist. There is no acceptable threshold of benzene exposure when it comes to cancer risk, according to the World Health Organization.
However, benzene is not the only concerning substance released by stoves, and the emissions are not restricted to California. Gas stoves have been implicated as a cause of indoor air pollution over many years of research.
On a media call, Kelsey Bilsback, a senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy and a co-author of the new study, stated: "Anywhere natural gas is leaked, harmful air pollutants are likely to be emitted, as well."
Gas stoves in California homes have been found to release nitrogen oxides, which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs and make some individuals feel exhausted, lightheaded, or short of breath.
Drew Michanowicz, a different research co-author, has previously discovered 21 dangerous air contaminants from gas stoves and outdoor gas connections at Boston residences. Volatile organic compounds, a vast class of chemicals that includes benzene, were some of the pollutants. Long-term exposure to these chemicals may increase the chance of developing certain cancers, birth defects, or cognitive impairment.
However, according to Michanowicz, even of the lowest pollution levels in California were still almost 10 times higher than the national norms from his Boston study. Why concentrations differ from one area to the next is a mystery to the researchers.
Eric Lebel, a different research co-author, said, "We suspect it has something to do with where the gas is being sourced from. "California imports gas through two significant pipelines, one from the Rockies and the other from Canada's north."
According to Bilsback, depending on how it is carried or stored, benzene can infiltrate a gas supply at various locations throughout the system. It might then spill into the kitchen due to a leaking stove.
According to Lebel, benzene levels in Californian houses were constant regardless of the gas companies or the brands of household equipment. The highest amounts, however, were found in the North San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys, followed by those in the larger Los Angeles area.
According to Lebel, benzene emissions from gas stoves, even when they are off, can occasionally result in levels of benzene in your home that are comparable to having a smoker live with you.
However, the American Gas Association claimed in a statement that the new study was based on dubious air flow hypotheses that weren't compatible with normal American homes.
Considering that there are more than 77 million residential, commercial, and industrial natural gas consumers across all 50 states, the association claimed it was difficult to draw any inferences from data taken from 159 households in a single state.
Although people can be exposed to small amounts of benzene when they fill up their car's gas tank or sit by a fireplace, Andrea De Vizcaya Ruiz, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of California, Irvine, who wasn't involved in the study, said that exposure to high amounts over extended periods of time is concerning.
Because it changes the cells in the bone marrow, she claimed that it is one of the substances that causes cancer most directly.
According to De Vizcaya Ruiz, long-term benzene exposure may have particularly negative health effects on young children, pregnant women, and babies.
But Lebel noted that it could be challenging to determine whether your house leaks. Gas firms add substances that emit a rotten egg smell to gas so that significant leaks are not overlooked, however the smell is typically not detectable unless gas is leaking at large proportions. De Vizcaya Ruiz added that in such a situation, people might also begin to throw up, have dizziness or confusion, or get headaches.
Lebel advised leaving the house right away and calling the gas company if you ever smelled gas.
Opening windows, according to De Vizcaya Ruiz, can improve ventilation in rooms temporarily, reducing the risk of exposure, but it won't get rid of the problem at its source. She said that people in California would want to think about contacting their gas company as a precaution to make sure there isn't a leak.