How the fossil fuel industry convinced Americans to love their toxic stoves
For decades the American public has been largely sold on the notion that “natural” gas is relatively clean and a superior cooking experience vs. an electric stove and oven.
But, the cat is out of the bag – it turns out that the fossil fuel industry has invested a lot of time and money into engineering community support for natural gas through clever marketing and downright shady manipulation tactics (like those exposed in this article from Mother Jones).
As climate change moves from distant worry to proximate danger, KDA Homes will be transitioning away from natural gas appliances in all of the new homes we build.
As Rebecca Leber uncovers in her article How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves, “Burning natural gas in commercial and residential buildings accounts for more than 10 percent of US emissions, so moving toward homes and apartments powered by wind and solar electricity instead could make a real dent. Gas stoves and ovens also produce far worse indoor air pollution than most people realize; running a gas stove and oven for just an hour can produce unsafe pollutant levels throughout your house all day. These concerns have prompted moves by 42 municipalities to phase out gas in new buildings. Washington state lawmakers intend to end all use of natural gas by 2050. California has passed aggressive standards, including a plan to reduce commercial and residential emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. During his campaign, President Biden called for stricter standards for appliances and new construction. Were more stringent federal rules to come to pass, it could motivate builders to ditch gas hookups for good.”
As home builders committed to fostering sustainability in residential development, we agree that now is the time for this switch. Beyond the sustainability factors, there is mounting evidence that burning gas indoors can contribute to serious health problems.
In her article, Leber goes on to explain how
“Gas stoves emit a host of dangerous pollutants, including particulate matter, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. One 2014 simulation by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that cooking with gas for one hour without ventilation adds up to 3,000 parts per billion of carbon monoxide to the air—raising indoor concentrations by up to 30 percent in the average home. Carbon monoxide can kill; it binds tightly to the hemoglobin molecules in your blood so they can no longer carry oxygen. What’s more, new research shows that the typical home carbon monoxide alarms often fail to detect potentially dangerous levels of the gas. Nitrogen oxides, which are not regulated indoors, have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, along with asthma and other respiratory diseases. Homes with gas stoves have anywhere between 50 and 400 percent higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide than homes without, according to epa research. Children are at especially high risk from nitrogen oxides, according to a study by ucla Fielding School of Public Health commissioned by the Sierra Club. The paper included a meta-analysis of existing epidemiological studies, one of which estimated that kids in homes with gas stoves are 42 percent more likely to have asthma than children whose families use electric.”
Shelly Miller, a University of Colorado, Boulder, environmental engineer who has studied indoor air quality for decades, explains that when a stove burns natural gas—just as when a car burns gasoline—that combustion reaction oxidizes molecules in the air to create nitrogen oxides, which can make us sick. “Cooking,” she says, “is the No. 1 way you’re polluting your home. It is causing respiratory and cardiovascular health problems; it can exacerbate flu and asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in children.” Between the stove emissions and other household chemicals, “you’re basically living in this toxic soup.”
For us, the scale is now heavily tilted in favor of ditching natural gas and the toxic soup it contributes to creating in your home.
Natural Gas Stove:
- Provides a slightly better cooking experience (according to some people)
- Bad for the planet
- Releases toxic chemicals that are proven to cause serious health problems, especially in young children and the elderly.
- Better for our planet
- More convenient to clean
- Does not release any toxic chemicals into your home
- Slightly more expensive to operate depending on location and utility rates
With most of our homes powered completely by solar (meaning no added cost to operate electric appliances), the only benefit we see to a natural gas stove is a personal preference for how it cooks compared to an electric stove. We feel that switching to electric stoves and ovens in all of our homes is a smart and safe move for our planet and for the health of our homeowners and are committed to phasing out natural gas appliances in all KDA Homes.
For a more in-depth analysis of this controversial topic, please read Rebecca Leber’s full article published on Mother Jones.