Why I’m Firing My Gas Stove

Chatelaine's Brett Tyron does a comprehensive look at why it's time to ditch your gas stove.

Last year my husband and I started transitioning our home off of fossil fuels, with the goal of making our home net zero. We got a heat pump to heat and cool our home, we replaced our gas water heater with a heat pump water heater, and we installed solar panels. Now the only thing in our home using gas is our *flaming* stove. And it’s really starting to give us gas pains.

Not only is it polluting our indoor air, but it’s polluting the environment. And with two little girls who love to “help” us cook, we’re constantly worried about tiny fingers getting burned.

We’re now shopping for an induction stove—the most environmentally conscious, efficient, and dare I say, coolest way to cook. Here’s everything you need to know about why we’re firing our gas stove and switching to induction.

Why we need to ease off the gas

The gas industry has pumped a lot of money into convincing us that gas stoves are the superior way to cook. But the more we learn about the health and environmental impacts of natural gas, the less “natural” it seems.

So-called natural gas is mainly methane—a potent greenhouse gas that has 84 to 86 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 20-year period. Oil and gas facilities are responsible for nearly 44 percent of Canada’s methane emissions and 26 percent of the country’s GHG emissions.

“I think something people overlook is where this natural gas is coming from,” says Dr. Melissa Lem, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Most of Canada’s natural gas is mined in northern B.C. through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” A well is drilled down to rock formations where natural gas deposits are, and a slurry of chemicals, water and sand is blasted in, fracturing the rock. Some of the toxic soup stays underground, and some returns to the surface, where it’s stored in open frac ponds. One fracking well can use and pollute more than 10 million litres of fresh water—most of which is permanently removed from the water cycle. Not to mention contaminating the air and soil. With more than 20,000 fracking wells in B.C., the damage is mind boggling.

“It’s a highly polluting process that’s destroying farmland, using up huge amounts of clean water, and exposing farmers, families, and Indigenous peoples to high levels of pollutants in northern B.C.,” says Lem.

And once natural gas is piped to our homes, it continues to pollute. In 2018, natural gas was responsible for 36.7 megatons of residential CO2-equivalent emissions.

Are gas stoves bad for the climate?

Every time you turn on a burner or heat up your oven, your gas range produces carbon dioxide. It’s estimated that gas stoves in the U.S. emit 6.8 million tons of CO2 each year—the climate impact of 1,889,915 gas-powered cars. Natural Resources Canada estimates that in 2018, gas stoves in Canada emitted 370,000 tonnes of CO2.

Gas stoves also emit unburned methane, through leaks and incomplete combustion. A recent study led by Stanford University measured methane emissions from gas stoves inside 53 U.S. homes, and found that the average stove (burner plus oven) emits 649 grams of methane each year. With more than 40 million U.S. households cooking with gas, researchers estimate the total emissions from gas stoves to be 28.1 gigagrams of methane per year. Based on a 20-year timescale for the lifetime of methane, that’s like adding another 500,000 cars to the roads.

Is cooking with gas bad for your health?

Burning gas produces pollutants you don’t get with electric or induction stoves. The most concerning is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a reddish-brown gas that is associated with respiratory symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness—especially in children with asthma. Homes with gas stoves can have more than twice the NO2 as those with electric ranges, with levels exceeding Health Canada’s residential indoor air quality guidelines. Lem says that most existing Canadian gas ranges don’t meet the long-term exposure limits for NO2.

“It’s almost impossible to meet safe indoor air quality guidelines with a gas stove,” says Lem.

Read the full article at Chatelaine

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