Harvard researchers conducted a milestone study to analyze the characteristics of unburned natural gas collected from indoor residential kitchen stovetops. Numerous compounds were identified of which 21 were known hazardous air pollutants. The most notable substances are benzene, hexane, and toluene, additionally these leaks can also contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning. This issue is not only a safety concern but a health concern.
Is Natural Gas Toxic?
Natural gas is a popular fuel choice for home cooking. Nearly ⅓ of American households use it. A new study found that natural gas stoves released low levels of toxic chemicals into the air, linked to cancer, but doctors explain that the risks are likely very low. It should still be considered an indoor air pollutant.
What Chemicals Do Gas Stoves Release?
Natural gas stoves can release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other harmful pollutants into the air. Studies show that air can be unhealthy to breathe when people cook in kitchens with poor ventilation.
Do Gas Stoves Give Off Methane?
Gas stoves give off methane through leaks, even when they’re off. Other risks for methane buildp include a poorly ventilated home or small kitchen size.
Are Electric Stoves Safer Than Gas Stoves?
Electric stoves are generally safer than gas stoves since they do not leave an open flame, and you do not risk gas leaks from something not being correctly hooked up. Electric stoves do not eliminate the risks of fires or burns, but they are generally considered safer than gas stoves.
How to Keep Your Family Safe if You Have a Gas Stove
Here are a few tips to keep your family safe if you have a gas stove.
- Always cook with the hood range or a fan on
- Inspect natural gas devices and appliances regularly
- Keep children away from all sources of natural gas
- Install a natural gas and carbon monoxide detector
- Know how to shut off natural gas in your home
How to Check if Your Gas Stove is Leaking
You will most likely smell the gas leak before you find it since suppliers add a potent smell to alert residents more easily. It smells similarly to rotten eggs. You can inspect your home for a gas leak using the following steps:
- Listen for a hiss or whistling noise. Focus on what you can hear. You can’t always hear the gas moving through a confined space, so don’t rely on this method solely to identify a leak.
- Check for a discolored flame. Gas stoves usually have a blue flame when burning. If the flame is yellow or orange, check further for leaks.
- Try the soapy water test. Mix one teaspoon of dish detergent with one cup of water. Apply it to wherever you think the leak may be along the gas pipes or lines. Look for bubbles forming, that indicates escaping gas.
- Use a natural gas leak detector. The best way to find a gas leak is to use a natural gas leak detector.
What to do if it is?
If you think you have a gas leak, take the following steps:
- Evacuate. Everyone in the house should leave the building immediately. Leaving will limit your exposure to the gas and create distance between you and the home if the gas leak ignites.
- Open doors and windows. On your way out of the house, open all the doors and windows to allow the gas to escape.
- Call for help. In the event of a gas leak, once you are outside call:
- Your local fire department
- The emergency line for the utility company for your home
Symptoms of Natural Gas Exposure
Symptoms of natural gas exposure include fatigue, severe headaches, memory problems, loss of concentration, nausea, loss of consciousness, and breathing difficulties. Call 911 if the person is unconscious, having seizures, or has trouble breathing. Otherwise, contact your local poison center for treatment advice.
When to Call for Help
Call the Missouri Poison Center any time for a question or if you may be experiencing signs of a poisoning 1-800-222-1222. Our specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365.