Gas Stoves Can Emit High Levels of Cancer-Causing Benzene: Study

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Oct. 21, 2022 – A new study from California showed that some household gas stoves leak dangerous air pollutants such as benzene, which is linked to cancer.

Gas stoves can leak even when they are turned off, said Eric Lebel, PhD, the lead study author. Pollutants in the natural gas then infiltrate the home and are most dangerous in small, poorly ventilated kitchens.

“For benzene, we saw that it is possible for leaks from gas stoves to create similar concentrations as secondhand smoke,” Lebel said, adding that the levels measured were above low-level risk limits in California.

The peer-reviewed study, published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, examined 185 unburned natural gas samples collected from 159 homes across California. Researchers intentionally studied homes that used a variety of natural gas suppliers. 

Their analyses identified 12 different “hazardous air pollutants,” a designation by the Environmental Protection Agency of air toxins known to cause cancer and other serious health impacts.

“There is really no safe threshold” for benzene exposure, Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician who was not involved in the study, told The New York Times.

Landrigan said that even low benzene levels like those seen in the new study can accumulate in the body over time, resulting in health risks equal to total exposure. 

About one-third of U.S. energy consumption comprises natural gas, including 15% of which was used by nearly 75 million U.S. households, the researchers said. The study was intended to spur policymakers, as household leakage of natural gas is not calculated in emissions data.

“What this tells us is that just having a gas stove in your home can introduce potentially dangerous levels of hazardous air pollutants,” said Lebel, who works for PSE Health Energy, the nonprofit that funded the research.

The study's authors suggested limiting exposure by turning on an air filter or range hood and opening a window.

Show Sources


PSE Health Energy: “Measuring Air Quality Impacts of Gas Stove Leaks,” Oct. 20, 2022.

Environmental Science & Technology: “Composition, Emissions, and Air Quality Impacts of Hazardous Air Pollutants in Unburned Natural Gas from Residential Stoves in California.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: “Hazardous Air Pollutants.”

The New York Times: “Researchers Find Benzene and Other Dangers in Gas Piped to California Homes.”

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