Study Reveals Indoor Gas Stoves as Significant Source of Benzene Exposure

Study Reveals Indoor Gas Stoves as Significant Source of Benzene Exposure

June, 2023

A recent study has shed light on a previously unrecognized health risk associated with indoor gas stoves, revealing them to be a significant source of benzene exposure. The research, conducted across 87 homes in California and Colorado, quantified the formation of benzene indoors from gas combustion by stoves, highlighting the potential impact on indoor air quality and public health.

Benzene, a known carcinogen, has long been associated with various exposure pathways such as tobacco smoke, oil and gas development, refining, and vehicle emissions. However, this study is the first to specifically measure benzene emissions from gas combustion by stoves and evaluate its effects on indoor environments.

The findings indicate that natural gas and propane combustion emitted detectable and repeatable levels of benzene, with some homes recording indoor concentrations that exceeded well-established health benchmarks. The mean benzene emissions from gas and propane burners, when set on high or ovens at 350 °F, ranged from 2.8 to 6.5 μg min–1. These levels were found to be 10 to 25 times higher than emissions from electric coil and radiant alternatives.

Furthermore, the study revealed that benzene produced by gas and propane stoves can migrate throughout homes, leading to elevated benzene concentrations in bedrooms for hours after the stove was turned off. This prolonged exposure raises concerns about potential chronic health effects for individuals regularly using gas stoves.

While gas stoves have long been a staple in households worldwide, this study underscores the need for a comprehensive understanding of the potential health risks associated with their use. Public health agencies and policymakers are urged to take this new evidence into account when formulating guidelines and regulations pertaining to indoor air quality and kitchen appliance standards.




Gas and Propane Combustion from Stoves Emits Benzene and Increases Indoor Air Pollution

Yannai S. Kashtan, Metta Nicholson, Colin Finnegan, Zutao Ouyang, Eric D. Lebel, Drew R. Michanowicz, Seth B.C. Shonkoff, and Robert B. Jackson

Environmental Science & Technology

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c09289