In the realm of climate change activism, it’s easy to get caught up in the bigger picture – reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to renewable energy, and advocating for global policy changes. However, sometimes, it’s the smaller, less obvious sources of pollution that slip our minds and directly impact the daily lives of our families. Mothers Out Front recently hosted a virtual event that delved into one such issue – the dangers of gas stoves, their health impacts, and the solutions to protect your family from indoor pollutants. The event, led by Stephanie Bowman, Senior Manager of Learning & Member Success, highlighted the intersection of health, climate, housing, and equity and shed light on a hidden issue affecting countless families.
The Silent Culprit: Gas Stoves ️
Cooking is a central part of family life for many of us. It’s where we bond, create memories, and nourish our loved ones. Yet, what you may not realize is that over a third of Americans still use gas stoves in their kitchens. Despite being marketed as essential tools for home cooks, gas stoves are not as benign as they seem. Stephanie Bowman, whose family has a history of using gas stoves and of asthma, raised an important question: Could the gas stove in her home have contributed to her family’s health issues?
Gas stoves are not as clean as they seem. Although called “natural gas,” it’s far from natural – it’s dirty, being composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When methane is burned, it emits carbon dioxide (CO2), another greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
Recent research from Stanford University has revealed a disconcerting fact – methane gas is leaking into our homes from gas stoves, even when they’re turned off. The amount of methane leaked from unused gas stoves is equivalent to approximately 500,000 gas-powered cars on the road. Mothers Out Front, in collaboration with organizations like Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Sierra Club, and the Rocky Mountain Institute, released a comprehensive research report in 2020, dispelling the misconceptions surrounding gas stoves and highlighting their pollution levels.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable: Our Children
Children are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of gas stoves. Their height places them directly in the path of the fumes, and their higher breathing rates expose them to more pollutants. The association between gas stoves and childhood asthma is alarming. Children living in homes with gas stoves have a 42% increased risk of experiencing asthma symptoms, a 24% increased risk of being diagnosed with asthma, and a 32% overall increase in the risk of both current and lifetime asthma.
Taking Action: Solutions for a Safer Home
Acknowledging the problem is just the first step. The real change comes with action. Mothers Out Front offers practical solutions for families to protect themselves from gas stove pollution:
- Ventilate Your Kitchen: Open a window while cooking to ensure better air circulation.
- Make the Switch to Induction: Consider transitioning to an electric induction cooktop, which is both efficient and cleaner.
- Install a CO2 Detector: A carbon dioxide detector can provide an early warning of gas leaks.
- Explore Alternative Appliances: Electric air fryers and convection ovens can provide cleaner cooking options.
- Home Ventilation: Make use of a kitchen hood or extractor fan to reduce indoor air pollution.
Moreover, Mothers Out Front is advocating for portable induction cooking plates as an alternative for those living in apartments or are unable to switch their appliances. Some local libraries may even have these plates available for rent.
To ensure that all families have clean indoor air, Mothers Out Front has crafted a powerful action toolkit. This toolkit prescribes a series of actions you can take to make the switch and encourage others to do the same.
Tackling gas stove pollution is about safeguarding our homes, protecting our children, and contributing to the fight against climate change. The event illuminated a hidden issue that, if addressed collectively, can make a significant difference in the lives of countless families. To join the cause, visit here.