Effects of Using Gas Indoors

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ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS
There is a growing body of study on methane emissions from fracking, transmission and distribution, but now some studies are looking at methane lost beyond the meter – from interior appliances.

» Unburned Methane Emissions from Residential Natural Gas Appliances

Although significant research has been done to measure and model methane emission from NG processing and distribution infrastructure, limited research exists regarding the fate of methane delivered to residential end users. Field research on residential NG space heating, water heating, and cooking appliances at 100 homes was conducted to determine their contribution to U.S. anthropogenic methane emissions.

by Zachary Merrin*and Paul W. Francisco
Applied Research Institute, Indoor Climate Research & Training, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
March 25, 2019

» Beyond-the-Meter: Unaccounted Sources of Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Distribution Sector
by Patricia M. B. Saint-Vincent, Natalie J. Pekney
December 6, 2019
*Abstract only. Full study available for sale from ACS Publications

HEALTH EFFECTS
Aside from damage to the wider environment caused by natural gas infrastructure, a seldom mentioned health concern is the impact of emissions from natural gas burned in the home.

Recent studies on the effects of using natural gas in the home:

» A cross-sectional study of the association between ventilation of gas stoves and chronic respiratory illness in U.S. children enrolled in NHANESIII – 2014 Kile et al
Table 2 shows compares children in homes with gas stoves that are not ventilated to the outside vs homes that are ventilated to the outside (not the cheap fan that blows the fumes back into your kitchen). Kids in homes with ventilated gas stoves were less likely to have ever had asthma or bronchitis, or wheeze in the past 12 months.

» A cross sectional analysis of behaviors related to operating gas stoves and pneumonia in U.S. children under the age of 5 – 2015 Coker et al
Same group as previous study. Addresses “Gas Stove Pneumonian”. Table 1 compares children in homes with gas stoves that are not ventilated to the outside vs homes that are ventilated to the outside (similar to first study). If there was a gas stove in the home, children were more likely to have gotten pneumonia if the stove was not ventilated to the outdoors.
– Both studies controlled for a handful of factors that could account for the difference, like socioeconomic status and having pets in the home

» Home interventions are effective at decreasing indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations- Paulin 2014
Started with homes that had a gas burning stove. Assigned homes to one of 3 categories: Add a ventilation hood, add an air purifier, or exchange the gas stove for an electric. Compared to the starting point, there was no statistical change over time if the stove was left in the home. But there was a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide pollution in the home, about 25% decrease, if an air purifier were used. If the gas stove were exchanged for an electric, indoor nitrogen dioxide went down by about 50%, statistically significant in this study at the 3 month time point.
– There are several technical reasons why the ventilation hood did not affect nitrogen dioxide, some are listed in the discussion (fewer homes in this study, 78, vs thousands in the other studies; people may not have used the ventilation hood; the ventilation hood might work for other important pollutants but not nitrogen dioxide, etc)
– Conclusion: The most effective intervention is to get rid of your gas stove.

» A Longitudinal Study of Indoor Nitrogen Dioxide Levels and Respiratory Symptoms in Inner-City Children with Asthma
by Nadia N. Hansel, Patrick N. Breysse, Meredith C. McCormack, Elizabeth C. Matsui, Jean Curtin-Brosnan, D’Ann L. Williams, Jennifer L. Moore, Jennifer L. Cuhran, and Gregory B. Diette
Published in Environmental Health Perspectives

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