At a recent leadership conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors proposed a resolution on children’s health and the use of “natural” gas indoors. It notes “concerns going back almost a century to support caution in the use of natural gas, with recent studies attributing significant pediatric asthma and lung disease risk to gas stove use.” In the fourth edition of the Pediatric Environmental Health (2019), pediatric health professionals wrote that “During the winter, average indoor concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in homes with gas cooking stoves are as much as twice as high as outdoor levels.”
Good on them for exposing the truth about gas appliance pollution after decades of glitzy, misleading advertising from the fossil fuel industry. Methane gas, cleverly promoted as “natural” gas, is a powerful climate-changing greenhouse gas. Emissions from home gas appliances also expose residents to more benzene and other toxic chemicals than secondhand smoke. The air quality team at Beyond Toxics recently completed an in-depth study documenting how harmful gasses accumulate at dangerous levels inside kitchens when cooking on a gas range. These are chemicals known to cause respiratory diseases and cancer, hence the warning from pediatricians.
I’m grateful our City Council is committed to turning off the methane gas spigot. As the council develops a residential gas ordinance that can withstand the inevitable court challenges from the gas industry, let’s remember that past regulations to prevent exposure to asbestos, lead paint and second-hand smoke were adopted despite industry’s protestations. Local governments, including Eugene, are doing the right thing to phase out the use of methane gas appliances.
Executive Director, Beyond Toxics