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This post discusses the Major Health Risks of Natural Gas and Propane in Your Home — what leading detox experts are saying — as well as how to proceed: how best to cook your food, dry your clothes and heat your homes.
As a gourmet cook who just finished remodeling our kitchen, I’ve been willing to apply these principles, because even though I love the performance of a gas or propane range, I can actually feel the difference in my health when I use electric.
I know some people want to hide … when they hear one more thing they can do better for their health.
But here’s the thing: It’s better to know; and then to do something about it when you’re ready. Ignorance is never the best route. Wait; and when you can and want to, then consider making a change …
WHY IS NATURAL GAS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
The major health risks of natural gas in your home affect women and children especially, those with compromised health of any kind and affect the air quality of your entire house.
Whether for cooking, laundry, or heating, gas is harmful.
Electric or solar are the ways to go.
4 MAJOR Health Risks of Natural Gas and Propane in Your Home
- Environmental illnesses are caused by breathing in natural gas, most frequently asthma in children and respiratory compromise in adults. If one’s lungs are already compromised, eliminating natural gas from the home becomes even more important. But prevention, too, is key.
- Those with thyroid issues are adversely (especially) affected by petrochemicals, and should be especially careful.
- Anyone with compromised detoxification pathways is at high risk, unable to usher out the toxins from their body.
- Natural gas increases airborne mold, dust mites, viruses and bacteria! (More on this below.)
What are the worst culprits
Well, yes, cook stoves are the worst, meaning your oven and stove top range. But any appliance that uses natural gas causes it to become airborne in your home: dryers, fireplaces, hot water heaters, furnaces and space heaters.
Think about a child’s room being heated with gas, especially if that child already has asthma.
Or a woman cooking, women have been found to be more susceptible to the harms of natural gas. As she leans over to pull food from the oven, or hovers over something on the stove top, she is breathing in the following cocktail of chemicals:
methane, radon and other radioactive materials, BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), organometallic compounds such as methylmercury organoarsenic and organolead, mercaptan odorants, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, organic compounds (including formaldehyde), fine particulates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, among others.
Where does natural gas go
And what’s worse?
Natural gas and propane actually cling to our food. So we eat it, when our food is cooked by gas. And it clings to our clothing, when we use gas dryers; so it touches our skin.
We want to know about environmental toxins, as we try to restore our body’s best health or promote longevity. This is, therefore, a truth about which to be aware.
David Wimberly of the Natural Gas Health Information Coalition N.S. adds:
Gas combustion generates copious amounts of water vapour contributing to moulds, dust mites, viruses and bacteria, providing a transport mechanism for these and other respirable particulates and volatile organic compounds deep into the lungs and thus into the body.
An increase in airborne mold, dust mites, viruses and bacteria — all due to natural gas.
BEING WELL MEANS REMOVING ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS
Ben Lynch, N.D. is the nation’s MTHFR gene mutation specialist. He understands not just gene mutations but detoxification issues on a broader scale.
An individual does not have to have an actual gene mutation to have the same or similar symptoms: problems with ushering out toxins from the body.
I am one such patient. I do not have the gene mutation. But I supplement and use certain modalities because my body behaves as if I do. I need all the help I can get with detoxification (which is why, in addition to having an electric stove, I use a sun lamp, an infrared sauna, dry brush and take magnesium baths).
So what does Lynch say about gas? He has a strong opinion:
“Cook with electric stove and oven and remove gas stove and oven.”
How to cook your food without natural gas
Solar is the cleanest, best source of heat.
Makes sense! But solar ovens are still awkward, unusual contraptions, that few would buy except for camping. I look forward to the further development of this technology.
Electric is next. It is disappointing that electric stoves are recommended, especially for those of us who love gourmet cooking and the quick receptivity, even cooking and subtle variations of heat that gas allows.
Electric is so blah … until you get used it again.
The fact is: we live in an imperfect world. We can’t have it all. For those who struggle with their health, breathing in and eating noxious gas is a definite impediment to healing and wellness!
Since we switched to electric, I have definitely adjusted!
The benefits of an electric range are:
- Most electric stoves now have a glass or ceramic top, which makes them easy to clean for most spills.
- They are inexpensive to purchase and install.
- They offer additional storage below the oven, which gas stoves can not.
- While gas stove tops allow more precision, electric ovens are actually preferred by avid bakers, providing more uniform heat.
There are, of course, additional drawbacks to electric stoves, beyond the complaints of a gourmand:
- The glass top can stain easily; and some spills (such as sugar) are hard to get off if cooked on.
- Power outages render electric stoves inoperable.
- The electricity used to operate electric stoves is more expensive than the gas used with a natural gas range.
(Induction heat, by the way, is not safe. Powerwatch news says, “As very high EMFs are generated on purpose and these extend into the user, we cannot recommend this way of cooking.”)
WHAT IF YOU’RE STUCK WITH GAS?
Many of you who read this will feel stuck, right? You have gas, and you can’t afford to replace it? What then? Wimberly advises thus:
For existing oil appliances (or gas or propane), isolate them from the shell of the building by enclosing them in a properly sized vapour tight space with dedicated direct outside air intake and an outside vent. Do this in addition to purchasing only direct outside air intake appliances with forced exhaust to a chimney above the roof line. Your local “experts” will say the enclosed space is redundant and that a side vent is fine, but don’t believe it. Be safe. The standards of safety for these appliances were not set considering the needs of those with environmental illness, nor do they take into effect the recent data on asthma and other respiratory illness. No venting system is at all effective enough for it to be safe to use gas for washers, driers, air conditioners, lighting, refrigerators, fireplaces, barbecues and most especially cook stoves.
So, if you can, create a large window or door where your gas source is. Or move your gas source to a very well ventilated location.
You may not save money directly with this exchange. But the healthcare costs more than make up for it.
HOW TO SWITCH FROM GAS TO ELECTRIC?
Your kitchen will need to be installed with a 240-volt power supply.
Or, if you’re at all unconventional and frugal, (like I am), more and more families are turning to counter top burners and ovens. I believe this is the route we’ll choose. Even without plans for a tiny house, this approach is so practical and affordable!
Hot plates have come a long way. There are a variety of styles and sizes from which to choose. (And I am thankful for a handy hubby who can build mine into the counter!)
How to heat your home?
There’s nothing like a well-built wood stove! Hydronics and radiant floors are also good, but more expensive.
Renee Kohley says
Ohh this is so sad for me 🙁 The last place we lived had an electric stove and I HATED it – like seriously hated it. I have a gas stove now and LOVE it – I just cook better on it or something. Blahhh – anyway! I love the idea of wood burning for sure – not sure that will happen here. MIght have to get some recommendations on some really good electric stoves down the road 😉 Thank you for this info!
Megan Stevens says
I understand the frustration, Renee! Thanks for sharing.
Don’t get your hopes up on the electric stoves. I’m looking. They now are all either the horrible glass tops ( where you can’t use cast iron, copper, or even aluminum cook wear. In other words they look pretty but you can’t really cook on them), or they’re the new ‘sensi coil ‘ in which the elements are not allowed to get ‘too hot’ and shut off on their own. Reviews show that people can’t even boil pasta on them, or do canning, or even brown meat or hash browns properly because the element shuts off on it’s own. This is supposed to be a ‘safety feature’. There are no other electric stove choices than these duds. Looks like they make stoves these days for people who actually don’t want to cook much. Great eh.
The stoves are also very cheaply made. The only decently solid stoves that you can still actually cook on are gas. I really am in a dilemma. I’m wondering how much of this alarm about gas stoves is warranted. I’m also wondering if the ‘super airtight’ houses have something to do with the air quality when cooking with gas.
We have a glass top stove that was in the house when we got it. It works great! We use both cast iron and copper with no problems at all. You just have to be careful not to slide it around if you don’t want it to scratch. My folks also have a glass top and my mother cans on it all the time.
Yes we have no problem with our stove as well. I wonder if you need a new stovetop?
Emily @ Recipes to Nourish says
Really informative. I used to have gas in several rentals and loved it. But I adjusted once we ended up with electric. I thought I would not like it, but I adjusted and now prefer it. Moving forward with our own home, I will for sure use electric after reading about this. Thanks so much for the info!
Megan Stevens says
I’m so glad, Emily. I love hearing that you prefer it!
Great post. We used a gas stove in our last place and now we are using electric and it is so inferior to cooking. I burnt a few things on this new electric stove. This article makes me feel better about our tiny electric stove though!
Megan Stevens says
Yay! Yes, so many who wished they could upgrade can now know they have something better than they knew, and a bit more peace of mind.
Jessica from SimplyHealthyHome says
Great information. We have gas and can’t change it but it’s good to know what you are dealing with, you know?
Megan Stevens says
Yes, we’re in the same boat for now.
Anna @GreenTalk says
I would avoid wood burning especially if you have asthma in the house. I wrote a post about EPA wood burning stove and all the anti-wood burning people came out of the woodwork. (No pun intended.) They did open my eyes to the fact that wood burning can cause an increase in asthma. If you are going to go the wood stove route make sure it is an EPA certified wood stove that reduces air pollution and particles. In addition, if you have gas in your house, you should have carbon monoxide and gas detectors installed. We have a gas detector installed in the kitchen and carbon monoxide detectors through out the house
Read my article about wood burning stoves and fireplaces and how to reduce your family’s risk. http://www.green-talk.com/wood-burning-healthier-solutions/
Megan Stevens says
Thanks, Anna! We do have a daughter with a history of extreme asthma; so yes, I definitely specify the importance of the wood stove being a high quality one. We love ours. It’s our only source of heat and didn’t trigger her asthma (before we put it into remission). Hope I was clear, although brief, about that above and glad for your added information!
pat stewart says
What if you have copd using a propane heater?
linda spiker says
I do. I want to hide and close my eyes and ears. Not one more thing…everything in California is natural gas. Except my oven with is electric. Boo!
Megan Stevens says
AW, well! At least your oven is helping you out! I can’t imagine you stove top cooking with electric, Linda… except maybe in some post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. 😉 At least in California you can open your doors and windows for ventilation, all that lovely weather streaming in…
Raia Torn says
You have officially ruined my life! Ha. We just bought our first house last year and it has natural gas. No way we could ever afford changing it, though someone had jimmy-rigged an electric stove in the kitchen when we first moved in (totally unsafe – it was scary-looking). Even though we made sure the place was mold-free, my allergies and asthma have been awful since moving here, I wonder if this is why? So frustrating. At least we live in the south so we don’t have to turn on the heat very often. :p
Well, heaven just keeps looking better and better, I guess!
Megan Stevens says
I know what you mean, Raia! Sorry for the frustration! Yes, so glad you are in a warm weather state.
Raia, see my post about the toxin-neutralizing properties of taking enough ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Raia Torn says
I can’t have ascorbic acid because I’m allergic to corn, but I’m sure upping my sources of natural vitamin C would be a great idea. 😉
Zen Jen says
acid is ascorbic acid. No matter what it is derived from, whether it be from corn
or beets, it is stripped of anything except its chemical formula.
There is no trace of corn or beets left. And, it actually helps cure allergies. http://www.doctoryourself.com/allergies.html
I had terrible allergy symptoms, myself. As long as I remember to dose pure ascorbic acid through the day (I take 5 grams at a time), I can keep it under control.
Vitamin C from natural sources is good, of course, but you can’t get enough ascorbic acid from food, to overcome symptoms.
Raia Torn says
That’s very interesting. I’ll have to research it more.
Anya | Prepare & Nourish says
Oh bummer! I think I knew this was always the case but put it out of my mind. I’ve used electric for a few years right after getting married – HATED it (yes, with all caps) I do think cooking on gas produces far superior product and it looks more official, like a food blogger lives here, you know. They really need to start making either better looking and more efficient electric stoves or more healthier gas ones. Until then, lots of fresh air, air-flitering plants and diffusing EO throughout the house!
Megan Stevens says
Yes, your solutions sound like good options for someone who’s committed to staying with natural gas, especially LOTS of fresh air. It would be great to see electric and solar both move forward!
Jbh Jbh says
I hate to say it, but none of the links here have any actual data on indoor pollution produced by gas stoves. I also don’t see the point of worrying about emfs from induction stovetops if you are past child bearing and don’t have any children around. Nothing in this world is going to be 100% risk free.
Yeah, I’m stuck with gas. I regularly dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) upwards of 20-30 grams/day or more. Vitamin C protects against a wide range of toxins, even against low levels of
radiation. At Fukishima, workers tasked with cleaning up inside the
reactor buildings were given 25 grams of vitamin C a day, and none of
them developed radiation sickness.
So I will continue cooking with natural gas, and taking as much vitamin C as I can get into myself.
Megan Stevens says
Thanks for sharing how you handle it!
Hopefully it will help others! I do think it is true that gas can be a health hazard and I did develop troublesome symptoms in the last few years that have diminished greatly since I started high-dose ascorbic acid.
Shane Gunn says
I am on stand alone solar power with no grid connection so electric cooking is never a possibility due to the high energy demand of electric stoves.I have an lpg stove and a well ventilated kitchen that I have built.The kitchen has air ventilation gaps behind the stove and screened ventilation windows in two walls opposite each other for good cross ventilation.I would recommend that anyone on natural gas to change to lpg due to it being heavier than air as opposed to natural gas being lighter than air and due to this the gas emissions rise and travel through the house more than lpg which gas emissions fall.
Megan Stevens says
Thanks for sharing that information!
Suzanne Davis says
The MTHFR expert is Dr. Ben Lynch, not David Lynch.
Megan Stevens says
LOL, you can tell what era I grew up in…thank you! Funny my brain did that. Changing now. 😉
we bought our home a couple years ago and it came with a gas stove, which i liked cooking on but had concerns about the health and safety aspect. Fortunately, it was old and gave out right after we moved in! Purchased my dream stove, Bosch electric glass top and couldn’t be happier; and it seems much more efficient as well. Thanks for the article!
Trish Trombly says
Would you mind letting me know which model Bosch you bought? I have read so many conflicting reviews and can’t find an electric glass top that has mostly positive reviews. Your help would be so appreciated! Thanks!
Oscar Amador says
There are 2 kind of electric hobs : ceramic and induction. I know induction creates a lot of EMF so is out of the question, but what about ceramic ? I don’t know if i should keep my gas hob or change it for a ceramic …
Megan Stevens says
Hi Oscar, ceramic is superior to gas. It uses resistance heat, and it is electric. I hope that helps and that I understand your question correctly. Induction is bad. Gas is bad. Electric ceramic is a good option.
Oscar Amador says
Thanks Megan. Renovating the kitchen right now :). I’m so happy to get rid of my gas applyance …
I agree that gas stoves can cause bad indoor air pollution. However, I am also concerned to just purchase a conventional electric stove as I am trying to protect my little ones from so much EMF exposure. I think I would feel better with them in the kitchen with a ventilation going outside and cooking on gas then having them stand next to me with high amounts of EMF coming off my electric stove. I have struggled with this decision because I feel that both have disadvantages. For me it is hard to say which is the worst?
Pourquoi Waschek says
I recently moved from an almost all propane RV to an all electric park model. Since the move I’m sleeping five or six hours a night as compared to two or three in the RV. I wonder if the change of fuel is the reason.
Am a tenant in a home with gas stove policy. We have been using gas stove for the past 2 months and my Children are complaining about their eyes. Could this be the gas stove we using? LP gas
I’m sorry to hear this. I can’t say because I’m not in the situation to be aware of other possible contributing factors or the circumstances. Certainly if you can increase ventilation around the gas stove it will benefit all.
I am in a confusion of switching to natural gas. This post pointing out the major health risks associates with propane and natural gas. It was very useful to me. Thanks
Chris Martell says
Great helpful information, although extremely hard to read with all the competing linked advertising, popups, scrolling intrusions and fractured headlines.
One correction: There are gas stoves/ovens with storage drawers underneath. Our stoves have always had them.
I also suggest people do research at legit chemistry and food science sites such as at universities to get a better understanding of the possible chemicals given off by burning gasses.
Even if you’re cooking with electricity, any cooking done higher than 375º or so can start producing new toxins.
Donna Connor says
Thank you so much for this long-hidden information. Thankfully, we have just put in geo-thermal heating and cooling which is an electric system delivery.
We were thinking of getting a propane instant hot water heater to help reduce the electric load. Do you have any statistics on these? It is a sealed unit, but might the gas that heats the water be coming out in the water itself? Other risks in the small closet that would house the unit?
Hi, thank you for the article. Just decided to stay electric. In Quebec there is regulation regarding natural gas hot water tank. A strong ventilation electric motor for air exchange must be installed by the gas supplier leads directly outside. Takes out alot of warm air in winter if the unit is not enclosed in it’s own room. But nothing for gas stove cooking required, kinda odd. One extreme to the other…
Hi Maurice, you’re welcome. I’m sorry your comment went to a file I don’t see very often, so I’m getting it late. Interesting about the Quebec regulation. Thanks for sharing what you did, and I’m glad the article is helpful.
Ultimately it comes down to this. I like to cook and yes I can cook on a electric coil range. Glass electric cook tops are useless to me. They don’t work well with woks, cast iron Dutch ovens and are way to slow to change temperature. So if you cooking is heating prepared sauces, boiling water or sauteing foods they can work OK, but making a sauce or for quick high temp cooking they are about useless. I recently remodeled our kitchen and I went with a dual fuel range (electric ovens, gas cooktop). I agree gas ovens are not very good. Too much moisture and usually uneven heat. And then there is the emission issue. With my gas cooktop I went with a 400 cfm exterior vent systems that pretty well sucks everything out.
The only electric cooktop I would consider is an induction cooktop put some of my favorite pans will not work with it and woks even the best ones made with carbon steel wont’ work with them.
Vented properly and installed properly I don’t see much wrong with a gas cooktop. And any other gas appliance properly vented to the outdoors should not be much of a concern either. You could not give however a ventless fireplace or fireplace logs etc. Just too much combustion by product in the house.
Hi Jim, thanks for sharing!
I’ve always been the “fake” foodie with my insistence on electric burners, the oven can be gas as I don’t care. But honestly, a gas oven doesn’t bake well.
I hate gas stoves. Period. Unless u cook only on high heat, the heat is too hot. I don’t mind a coil burner stovetop, I don’t care if there’s crud in the burner pan. I DO care that the food cooks well!
However my buying single countertop burners for my RV and now new home (w/propane stove) has been abysmal. Ordered and sent back more than several (incl several of same exact ones as I keep getting broken ones sent me!), the best one so far is a cast iron plate Cuisinart but it still takes FORever to heat and then doesn’t go down low enough. The coil burners rly just don’t get hot enough.
In fact I’ve been using the hack to put a cast iron flat griddle under my stainless steel pots to make grits etc. (gave up n only use my IP now for rice & steelcut oats). I did it in the electric burner and MELTED quite a bit, the plastic edge surround on top!! The burner is still functional but prob unsafe ? (the griddle hung over the edge of the cast iron plate burner & I like an idiot, didn’t think about the very hot griddle continuously on the plastic duh)
I WISH they made a decent single electric burner!! I think becuz the plug is just a normal appliance plug, the power can’t be great enough to heat like a stove top. Burners get super hot compared to ovens. So I guess only option IS replacing the gas stovetop ? which for an RV would drag too much electric for drydocking, overnights in Walmart lots, etc and for a kitchen is too major a reno for average fams esp since no one cooks at home anymore lol
Thanks for sharing that, Helene; oh so hard to find the just-right solution! When we lived in our tiny house, we just bought inexpensive single electric burners. They worked pretty well, with varying degrees of how long each one would last, but that was the main thing: never expecting any of them to last more than a few years each. Good luck finding your best burner for the job! <3
We have gas heat and electric air conditioning. Our fireplace has an insert that uses gas as well. We haven’t used it in years; the last time we turned it on, the odor wasn’t good. Perhaps it was just burning off impurities. I believe our pilot light is on in spite of not using the fireplace. Do you think it’s best to keep the pilot light off when not using it?We also use portable infrared heaters rather than using the central heat, for the most part. It’s debatable whether that’s saving money or not, as our electric bill increases with use of these heaters.
Hi Dorothy, re gas heat, where is your furnace located? Depending on its location, combustion gasses may or may not seep into the house. If your ducts are clean and the filters are changed regularly, it’s possible you are not being exposed to gasses. Re the fireplace, if you are able to shut off the gas to the insert, you may let the pilot light go out, BUT if you are unable, the pilot light needs to be left on.
Our furnace, or HVAC unit, is located at one end of our house, outside two of the bedrooms. Our propane tank is in the back yard. We haven’t been using the central heat recently, except when we had extreme low temps late last year. Thank you for your helpful tip about the fireplace insert, and for all your input. I work in a home where there’s gas heat, but at least there’s some control over it at home.
Yes, true. Happy to!