Energy & Environment

Gas stoves emit methane when they’re off, impacting health, climate: study

Gas stoves continue to release planet-warming gasses even when turned off, impacting both human health and climate change more than previously believed, according to a new study. 

Researchers from Stanford University measured releases of methane and nitrogen oxides, two greenhouse gasses that are major climate change contributors, in 53 homes in California. 

They looked at emissions both while the appliances were on and when they were turned off. 

The scientists found that more than three quarters of the stoves’ release of methane happened when they were turned off.

Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period and was responsible for 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

It can also pose health issues. According to Stanford, it can increase the amount of a pollutant called ozone, which is the main ingredient in smog and can cause conditions such as asthma. 

Nitrous oxide, which is responsible for 7 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

But, the research suggests that the EPA may be undercounting how many emissions are actually coming from gas stoves. 

The researchers said that their own estimate for methane emissions from the stoves alone was higher than the EPA’s estimate for all residential natural gas “stationary combustion,” a category which can include various appliances.

The study comes as several localities have seen attempts to ban gas appliances in new buildings in favor of more climate-friendly electric appliances. However, these efforts have has faced significant resistance from industry.

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