Multnomah County Health Department report recommends ditching gas stoves for health reasons

November 10, 2022

PORTLAND – Gas stoves release dangerous air pollutants that increase the risk of childhood asthma and other respiratory problems, according to a report released today by the Multnomah County Health Department. To protect public health, improve air quality in homes and mitigate climate change, the report recommends replacing gas ranges and other gas appliances like furnaces with electric alternatives when replacing.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners will receive a briefing on the report’s findings and recommendations on Thursday, November 10. at today’s regular board meeting. The meeting, which begins at 9.30 a.m., can be watched live online.

“Our review of the most recent scientific literature has conclusively revealed that gas stoves are a health hazard, especially for children with developing lungs. To protect against pollution-related respiratory problems, we recommend a transition from fuel-burning appliances to healthy electric alternatives whenever possible,” said Nadège Dubuisson, lead author of the report.

The report’s summary of the most recent health data reveals that gas cookers release a range of dangerous air pollutants, including high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air pollutant linked to asthma). According to a United States Environmental Protection Agency study cited in the report, homes with gas stoves have levels of NO2 which are 50% to more than 400% higher than those of homes equipped with electric stoves. Children living in homes that cook with gas are 42% more likely to have symptoms associated with asthma, and they are 24% more likely to be diagnosed with lifelong asthma due to NO2 exposure.

Read the report A review of the evidence on public health and gas stoves (1.33 MB).

One in 10 adults in Multnomah County reports a diagnosis of asthma, making the disease one of the county’s most common chronic conditions. Asthma rates are higher in low-income communities and communities of color, which are more likely to live in places with more polluted outdoor air and are more likely to use gas stoves like additional heat sources.

“We are learning more and more every day about indoor air pollution and what we can do to reduce exposures,” said Jessica Guernsey, county director of public health. “This report highlights what many of us can do to reduce indoor air pollution. Today’s report is also in line with the Air Quality Council’s resolution in February 2022, as we work to reduce the risk of asthma and other respiratory issues in our community.

Beyond reducing exposure to hazardous air pollutants, transitioning households from gas appliances to electric alternatives would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

“As a mum, keeping my family and all families safe is a top priority. So when we see evidence that the methane gas we use to cook in our homes is harmful to our health, we need to find out. ways to reduce the risk it poses,” Multnomah County said. President Deborah Kafoury. “The good news is that there are concrete steps we can take now to protect ourselves and our families, especially our children. And in the long term, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels remains the most effective way to protect the quality of our air, while mitigating the climate impacts that today put our communities at risk.

Beginning in 2023, households in Multnomah County will be eligible for incentives through the federal Inflation Reduction Act to switch from gas appliances to electric alternatives – including up to $8,000 per household for an electric heat pump, $1,750 for a heat pump water heater, and $840 for an electric cooker.

Households that are unable to switch from a gas stove can take other steps now to limit indoor air pollution from cooking.

Whenever possible, use other electrical appliances to prepare food, such as a slow cooker, Instant Pot or portable induction cooktop, or an electric kettle to boil water. If you are using your gas stove, cook on the rear burners. Using a range hood that exhausts to the outdoors or opening a window while cooking can also increase airflow and reduce the buildup of indoor air pollution.