Cooks love their gadgets, from countertop slow cookers to instant-read thermometers. Now, there’s increasing interest in magnetic induction cooktops—surfaces that cook much faster than conventional stoves, without igniting a flame or heating an electric coil.
Some of this attention is overdue: Induction has long been popular in Europe and Asia, and it is more energy-efficient than standard stoves. But recent studies have also raised concerns about indoor air emissions from gas stoves.
Academic researchers and agencies such as the California Air Resources Board have reported that gas stoves can release hazardous air pollutants while they’re operating, and even when they’re turned off. A 2022 study by U.S. and Australian researchers estimates that nearly 13% of current childhood asthma cases in the U.S. are attributable to gas stove use.
Dozens of U.S. cities have adopted or are considering regulations that bar natural gas hookups in new-construction homes after specified dates to speed a transition away from fossil fuels. At the same time, at least 20 states have adopted laws or regulations that prohibit bans on natural gas.
On Jan. 9, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that it will consider measures to ban gas stoves or regulate hazardous emissions from them. The agency has not proposed specific steps yet, and said that any regulation will “involve a lengthy process.”
As an environmental health researcher who does work on housing and indoor air, I have participated in studies that measured air pollution in homes and built models to predict how indoor sources would contribute to air pollution in different home types. Here is some perspective on how gas stoves can contribute to indoor air pollution, and whether you should consider shifting away from gas.
One of the main air pollutants commonly associated with using gas stoves is nitrogen dioxide, or NO₂, which is a byproduct of fuel combustion. Nitrogen dioxide exposures in homes have been associated with more severe asthma and increased use of rescue inhalers in children. This gas can also affect asthmatic adults, and it contributes to both the development and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Nitrogen dioxide in homes comes both from outdoor air that infiltrates indoors and from indoor sources. Road traffic is the most significant outdoor source; unsurprisingly, levels are higher close to major roadways. Gas stoves often are the most substantial indoor source, with a greater contribution from large burners that run longer.
The gas industry’s position is that gas stoves are a minor source of indoor air pollutants. This is true in some homes, especially with respect to exposures averaged over months or years.
But there are many homes in which gas stoves contribute more to indoor nitrogen dioxide levels than pollution from outdoor sources does, especially for short-term “peak” exposures during cooking time. For example, a study in Southern California showed that around half of homes exceeded a health standard based on the highest hour of nitrogen dioxide concentrations, almost entirely because of indoor emissions.
How can one gas stove contribute more to your exposure than an entire highway full of vehicles? The answer is that outdoor pollution disperses over a large area, while indoor pollution concentrates in a small space.
How much indoor pollution you get from a gas stove is affected by the structure of your home, which means that indoor environmental exposures to NO₂ are higher for some people than for others. People who live in larger homes, have working range hoods that vent to the outdoors and have well-ventilated homes in general will be less exposed than those in smaller homes with poorer ventilation.
But even larger homes can be affected by gas stove usage, especially since the air in the kitchen does not immediately mix with cleaner air elsewhere in the home. Using a range hood when cooking, or other ventilation strategies such as opening kitchen windows, can bring down concentrations dramatically.
Methane and hazardous air pollutants
Nitrogen dioxide is not the only pollutant of concern from gas stoves. Some pollution with potential impacts on human health and Earth’s climate occurs when stoves aren’t even running.
A 2022 study estimated that U.S. gas stoves not in use emit methane—a colorless, odorless gas that is the main component of natural gas—at a level that traps as much heat in the atmosphere as about 400,000 cars.
Some of these leaks can go undetected. Although gas distributors add an odorant to natural gas to ensure that people will smell leaks before there is an explosion risk, the smell may not be strong enough for residents to notice small leaks.
Some people also have a much stronger sense of smell than others. In particular, those who have lost their sense of smell—whether from COVID-19 or other causes—may not smell even large leaks. One recent study found that 5% of homes had leaks that owners had not detected that were large enough to require repair.
This same study showed that leaking natural gas contained multiple hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, a cancer-causing agent. While measured concentrations of benzene did not reach health thresholds of concern, the presence of these hazardous air pollutants could be problematic in homes with substantial leaks and poor ventilation.
Reasons to switch: Health and climate
So, if you live in a home with a gas stove, what should you do and when should you worry? First, do what you can to improve ventilation, such as running a range hood that vents to the outdoors and opening kitchen windows while cooking. This will help, but it won’t eliminate exposures, especially for household members who are in the kitchen while cooking takes place.
If you live in a smaller home or one with a smaller closed kitchen, and if someone in your home has a respiratory disease like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exposures may still be concerning even with good ventilation. Swapping out a gas stove for one that uses magnetic induction would eliminate this exposure while also providing climate benefits.
There are multiple incentive programs to support gas stove changeovers, given their importance for slowing climate change. For example, the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes many provisions to address climate change, offers rebates for the purchase of high-efficiency electric appliances such as stoves.
Moving away from gas stoves is especially important if you are investing in home energy efficiency measures, whether you are doing it to take advantage of incentives, reduce energy costs or shrink your carbon footprint. Some weatherization steps can reduce air leakage to the outdoors, which in turn can increase indoor air pollution concentrations if residents don’t also improve kitchen ventilation.
In my view, even if you’re not driven to reduce your carbon footprint—or you’re just seeking ways to cook pasta faster—the opportunity to have cleaner air inside your home may be a strong motivator to make the switch.
Jonathan Levy is professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.
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For many years I’ve tried to advise my clients to electrify and install electric appliances, including the known benefits and advantages of induction cooking, but like most of my large custom home clients, they are used to large gas cooktops, especially if they come with red knobs.
What I’ve found is that a compromise of going from an 8- gas burner to an induction + 2 gas burner with a synchronized exhaust fan and a make-up air unit can be a win-win. For some folks is about baby steps.
Try to convince them to install a purposeful (and impressive) outdoor kitchen/BBQ setup. That would, at least, take the combustion activities outside! If the common areas are enticing with an indoor/outdoor flow — such as a large sliding door or bi-fold glass wall — they'll hardly miss the fact that the stove itself is electric. Easier cleanup on a daily basis too.
I've also seen some very cool induction technology that nestles beneath the countertop itself, so there's no stove appliance per se — it just looks like more countertop, and who couldn't use that! With an in-built wall oven and maybe a coffee maker, you wonder how much actual cooking will be "ruined" by electricity instead of gas.
But at the same time, this all assumes we're dealing with reasonable people. If someone even considers owning a Hummer or a Ferrari, they're not going to dissuaded by arguments of how wasteful they are.
>Try to convince them to install a purposeful (and impressive) outdoor kitchen/BBQ setup
That's what I did. Pellet smoker/grill outside on the deck, and retro 1950s Hotpoint w/ Calrods inside.
The problem with these glasstops -- both induction and old "glowrings" -- is they shatter. I shattered my sister's glasstop cooker by simply putting a cast iron skillet on. Maybe I'm just heavy handed but a quick Google and I'm not the only homeowner with this problem. The cast iron grills on gas would be perfect for me (and my partner would prefer to go back to them), but I went all-electric a few years ago and am not going to look back. Old Calrods just work and aren't fickle.
Thanks for your comment. We are remodeling a Victorian and currently have a gas stove which I have insisted that we replace with an induction stove. My wife who does most of the cooking by far seems fine with a Calrod stove and sad about having to replace a lot of our cookware that we love using just so we can get induction. Your remark may have just pushed me back from the edge of the induction cliff. We can save money on the new stove and cookware too if we just embrace the tried and true.
Hopefully I didn't sound anti-induction. I've had a similar conversation with my partner. Do we replace some of our cookware or the stove?
Actually my mother-in-law loves her induction. But she wanted to upgrade all her cookware, so going to an induction stove was more straightforward.
When I just look at my mother-in-laws glasstop, I see myself shattering it in my mind, LOL!
P.S. on remodeling and Victorian, there are some early antique electric stoves that look like the early gas stoves. Modern Calrods are usually void of character, except a few KitchenAid models. Antique electric stoves are rare, and you'd want to re-wire them of course but the wiring is simple. I went with the 1950s era because retro is the style we're going for. I inspected the stove's circuits and re-wired as necessary, and found that Hotpoint & GE actually had dedicated ground terminals for safety back then, but nobody hooked up the grounds, hah. I do use a 4-wire.
My wife and I are avid cooks, use a lot of cast iron cookware and have had glass cooktops (for better or worse) for 20 years and have never broken one. But she sorely misses cooking with gas, and we're planning a kitchen renovation. After a lot of discussion and research, we are currently planning on a 30" induction cooktop paired with two propane burners that we will turn on only when we use them, on special occasions, and we'll have a large, deep range hood. Still not ideal from a health or environmental perspective but probably better than the wood pizza oven we have also considered building, and the gas burners won't be used very often.
Check your existing cookware with a magnet. It might be fine for induction.
Charlie, good advice, and we have used a magnet. Unfortunately we have some fancy aluminum- or copper-core cookware that is not magnetic. But we mostly cook with cast iron which is magnetic.
Yes, use a range hood but the range hood needs to completely extend over the burners, and that means 24" deep. Also, the hood has to be designed with a "capture area" that funnels the cooking fumes and byproducts up into the exhaust duct (think of it looking like an upside-down bathtub).
Here's a Youtube video from Yale appliances that shows the best range hoods to buy.
Five Range Hoods You Should never Buy.
There's also Corbett Lunsfords Youtube channel where he explains range hoods and make-up air.
Banning gas stoves.
Make up air.
A huge miss in this article is that the effluent from cooking itself can often contain significant pollutants. Frying some bacon and eggs on an induction dwarfs the harmful effluent from a gas range.
And then there's a plethora of other air/environment pollutants in many homes.
And this doesn't even touch on the problems of CO2, particularly in closed bedrooms at night.
The focus needs to be on VENTILATION. Both proper range hoods (critical for induction as well) as well as general air exchange ventilation for the whole home.
Totally agree! A pile of ductwork awaits installation through a constellation of holes in our floor joists in the basement and a new HRV waits alongside in a box. Can't wait to put it all in place and enjoy real whole house ventilation. That said the expense in materials and labor are not small. Still, what is fresh air worth in terms of health...probably all told a good deal.
Good indoor air quality makes a big difference. Immediately noticeable from less odor and often generally feeling better, not getting tired, dizzy or headachy. People sleep better.
In the longer term it's healthier so occupants are less likely to develop a number of ailments caused by poor air quality.
The escaping methane even when the range is not on seems like a big deal to me, not to mention various losses along the way getting the gas to houses. So much of the problem with fossil fuels is having to move the dang things around. I think about that every time I see a train with a lot of open coal cars (which still isn't a rare sight). Anyway, we really like our induction range, and have had no problem with using cast iron or enameled cast iron at all. (I think I have mostly heard of the shattering problem in relation to canning on glass-top stoves: https://foodinjars.com/blog/canning-101-can-safely-can-glass-top-stove/ recommends using a lighter-weight stainless steel pot that does not have a concave bottom like an old-fashioned canner.)
Most of our pans worked, but we quickly discovered that the older stainless pans tended not to heat as evenly because they were a bit warped on the bottom, so we have in fact indulged in some new cookware. The old stuff was usable (and we have never been Everything Must Match people), so we got by until we felt like getting new stuff (e.g., sales). Friends of mine say their dedicated induction wok is awesome.
One aspect of an induction stove top that helps a lot with air quality is that spills don't burn and can easily be cleaned up. Our old coil stove (and the gas stove at the rental before that) frequently had us burning off remnants of old food as well as creating particulates from the new food. Every time I clean up sauce or grease spatters with a soapy cloth, I think how nice it is that stuff isn't burning and going into the air, and how nice it is that I don't have to take the burner apart to try to clean it.
I am not very sanguine about range hoods being installed well enough and used frequently enough to make a lot of difference. I am betting we probably ought to use ours about four times as much as we currently do (we mostly just open the window, which affects the reading on the air quality monitor a lot faster, and is quieter, if often chilly). And ours is, or was when first installed, a relatively good one, though probably placed too high above the cooking surface. Whole-house ventilation, if it became a standard part of HVAC installation, actually seems more doable. (I don't know how it works in apartment houses, though.)
Another element is that we still don't know the potential health impacts of induction. From my understanding the tests have all been done for a considerable distance (I believe 12" from the front of the range?) while in actual use people are within 0-4" of the front and so receiving much higher dose than has been tested for.
There is also an issue of audible and near-audible buzz/vibration. We don't know what impact this has on hearing nor on mental/emotional wellbeing.
Induction may be a great alternative but I don't think we know - it could pose greater health risks than gas (even without good ventilation)?
Perhaps we don't presently know the potential health impacts of induction. However as time goes on, and the smoking gun of actual evidence continues to elude legitimate researchers, at some point those advocating we continue to exercise the precautionary principle around EMFs will have to concede - as they have eventually done around their predictions about the harms of cell-phone use - that there doesn't appear to be much to worry about.
Malcom, totally agree.
For us it's a bit of a preferring the monster I know rather than the one I don't. I'm fairly confident that our house is well ventilated enough (range hood, MUA's, ERV's) that we face little to no harm from our gas range.
I can't yet say that for induction.
I am much less irritated by the quietness of our range hood vs the buzz from our various induction hobs though. :-)
That makes sense.
The dangers of induction question reminds me a bit of a visit I had in the mid 70s with my aging family doctor who suggested that as a teenager I should drink alcohol and eschew smoking pot because we knew alcohol was safe, and didn't know what the dangers of marijuana use were.
What would you tell your children today about alcohol vs pot?
They are both terrible for developing brains and bodies. Stay off them until you are an adult and can make informed choices as to the risks they pose.
For us I think there would be no benefit and numerous downsides to switching from gas to electric.
- Energy costs would increase. Gas is less BTU efficient but also costs considerably less. IIRC, on average across the U.S. cooking a meal with gas is about 15% less expensive than induction. If we had sufficient solar this equation might be different.
- Gas ranges are simpler, more reliable, last longer and require less maintenance.
- No improvement in Indoor Air Quality. (Every house should have such adequate ventilation that this is the case but sadly I don't think we'll see that in our lifetimes.)
- Induction would increase irritating noise.
- Many cooking techniques cannot be done on induction (e.g., Michael's installing two gas hobs).
- Potentially increased heath risks from EMF and Buzz/Vibration.
There are potential environmental concerns where induction may be better though I'm not sure what those are.
I'm not generally a fan of using unsustainable fossil fuels like gas. How much of an issue is this? Is electric better?
"Is electric better?"
Right now the answer appears to be pretty regional. We are fortunate to get our very cheap electricity from a hydro dam 15 kms up the road. I'm sure the equation is a lot more nuanced elsewhere.
And gas and oil are leaving us with millions of abandoned wells that will pollute the environment for decades. Of course, those piles of coal ash and slag aren't going anywhere, except into our rivers and streams. Long after we've stopped burning fossil fuels, we'll be dealing with cleaning up what they've left behind.
That's a good enough reason to stop using natural gas. It's only cheap because the externalities aren't included in the price.
As for noise, my induction cooktop is quiet.
* A FEW cooking techniques can't be done on induction. Very few.
I have heard that people with ADHD can be extra-sensitive to buzzing and vibration. If it bothers you, it's a good clue to turn on the range hood.
We do something similar to @Micheal Maines. We have a gas range along with countertop induction hobs. We also have a commercial (Accurex) hood and good MUA. And for similar reasons.
Seems like this is the latest thing for everyone getting their t-ts in a wringer....I can see the day when some people will refuse to come to dinner if you have a gas stove. While I do not doubt that a gas stove produces a variety of pollutants, especially in a tight small house or apartment and for those that may have health issues, how much a problem are they in larger homes and rooms?...In our case, we have a 60" wide Viking "commercial grade" range with two ovens (and a large hood) in a room about 25' x 32' open to other parts of the house. We've enjoyed it for 40 years with no apparent ill effect on our family...and even if we wanted to replace it, there are no induction ranges of that size....so while I'm very climate aware in both my individual choices and as an architect, I don't think that stove is going anywhere for a long time.
Ditto, hughw. My wife is a chef and prefers our gas cooktop. Our beach house has an induction range, and while it works and boils water quickly, there's more to cooking than efficient heat--there's controlling it. Our induction has neither low nor high enough settings for delicate sauces or wok cooking. Our range hood vents automatically when we turn on the range and has enough draw to clear any smoke, even burnt food, without triggering the detector. We have a carbon monoxide detector next to the stove, just in case -- and we open winows all the time.
User: the lowest setting on my induction cooktop is lower than I've ever been able to get a gas flame. I can melt chocolate without a double boiler. And the highest is screaming hot. It's got 18 different heat settings.
Agreed! Being able to melt chocolate without a double boiler is such a nice feature! My induction range has a melt function which is perfect for that. It also has a simmer setting which is great for rice pilaf and other stuff you need to just keep at a true simmer. Induction will always be more precise than gas. Gas is affected by drafts and the size of your pot compared to the burner. Induction has none of that.
I was thinking the same thing as Stephen reported. For a low setting, you can't beat induction. Much more controllable than gas.
It really depends on the range I think. The simmer on our Bluestar RNB is quite good and better than any consumer level induction ranges I've used. Our Avantco countertop induction is about the same as the RNB. The only induction burner I've used that's better than the RNB is the Breville Control Freak*. From others I've talked with it sounds like Thermador gas is similar but the newer Wolf gas not so good with simmer.
I think among the bulk of consumer gas and induction ranges you're correct.
* We also use our griddle for sauces and other stuff. It's kind of like a linear french top and does quite well for very low heat needs.
No matter what you think of cooking with gas stoves versus electric, you have to hand it to the marketing arm of the gas industry. They executed one of the great marketing strategies in history.....coining the phrase "natural gas" as opposed to using the actual names of the gasses being piped into homes, like "methane" and "butane", etc.......Now, virtually everyone calls it "natural gas"...how can you be agianst using natural gas in your home? I wonder how enthusiastic people would have been to adopt these gasses for cooking etc if everyone continued to use the proper names: . "hey, now you are really cooking with methane Homer!!"...
People use propane, and it doesn't deter them. Propane appliances are pretty common where I live. Besides, natural gas is a composition of gasses, even if it is majority methane, Maybe we should we call it carbon tetrahydride instead?
Propane has no methane. I hoped to publish a short piece about propane, which has advantages over natural gas in chemical composition and distribution, but it has yet to happen. The reflex against gas has made any petrochemical fuel difficult to discuss, even if an improvement.
Interesting....when I mentioned our 60" pro-style gas range above, I didn't say that it actually burns propane....which I assume is just as bad for the environment as "natural" gas. But I'm curious, is propane any different from natural gas when it comes to health issues?
Methane (natural gas) has about 5X the climate impact of propane. I don't know about the health impact.
There are other chemicals in natural gas besides methane but methane makes up the vast majority of it.
As an architect and building science addict I’m all for electrifying as much within a home as possible but for most of our clients the idea of giving up even a direct-vent gas fireplace is a non-starter. I know all gas is environmentally harmful but I believe propane is significantly less harmful than natural gas.
Here is a question I have yet to have answered: If a client has an in-ground propane tank installed and connected to *only* a direct vent gas fireplace and the overall building envelope is very air-tight and well-insulated (AKA a Pretty Good House), is there still indoor air quality concerns in terms of occupant health? Thanks!
No. The issue is open flame of any kind on any indoor appliance, and it's not just gas, but wood, charcoal, etc. as well.
I'm not sure it's that straightforward. sidekickarchitects is asking about the difference between a sealed appliance and one open to the indoor environment. So for instance an airtight wood stove should not adversely affect the indoor air.
Hence "open flame", a wood burning fireplace with closed doors should not create a problem, but once you use it with open doors, that's where issues come in. I guess I should add "sealed, gasketed doors", to be more precise.
A wood burning or gas fireplace with the appropriate chimney and a make up air supply, in my opinion, would have minimal effect on indoor air quality, whether door is open or closed. Unless there is substantial back drafts, the vast majority of products of combustion will be vented to outdoors. Combine this with the fact that most fireplaces are used a very limited proportion of total hours, even in the winter.
I completely missed the "open" in your post.
The problem is that as Designers and Builders we don't know how homeowners are using those appliances and/or IF they have or use any kind of make-up air, and that's why is addressed in the codes for us to follow. Unless you design automatic ventilation and MAU when you use those appliances, chances are many clients don't follow thru with proper guidelines.
Have you see lately the proliferation of wood and gas indoor pizza, hibachi and s'moore grills? Yeah, that's a great idea.
"Have you see lately the proliferation of wood and gas indoor pizza, hibachi and s'moore grills? Yeah, that's a great idea."
Don't worry. Within a year they will be in the thrift stores competing for shelf space with the bread makers, juicers and air fryers that were recently popular.
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