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Gas stoves are found in around 40% of homes in the United States, and they’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. A recent interview with the commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) quickly became fodder for outrage, viral misinformation and political fundraising, after he proposed regulating the appliance. The proposal stems from a growing body of research suggesting gas stoves are unhealthy — especially for those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and children.
Gas stoves also leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the environment. Scientists at Stanford University measured methane emissions from 53 California homes and found that most leaks happened when the stove was off. The 2022 study found that leaks were caused by loose couplings and fittings of the gas lines and pipes.
“Simply owning a natural gas stove and having natural gas pipes and fittings in your home leads to more emissions over 24 hours than the amount emitted while the burners are on,” says Rob Jackson, one of the study authors.
NPR climate and energy correspondent Jeff Brady talked to experts and conducted his own test to separate fact from fiction. With a rented air monitor, he and Josiah Kephart, an assistant professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel University, measured the pollutant nitrogen dioxide emitted from a household gas stove and oven.
Today, Jeff reveals their results to host Emily Kwong and shares a new revelation: Gas stove manufacturers have long known how to make their burners emit fewer pollutants, but have stuck with older, higher polluting designs.
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Today’s episode was produced by Margaret Cirino, edited by Rebecca Ramirez, and fact-checked by Anil Oza.