Act of Cooking, Not Fuel Responsible for Indoor Air Quality Says New Report

Claims that natural gas stoves are harming residential health are unrealistic and undermining decision-making aimed toward protecting human health, according to a recent report published by Catalyst Environmental Solutions (CES) and commissioned by the California Restaurant Association and the California Building Industry Association. The analysis finds natural gas is, “not a significant determinant of residential indoor air quality, and that the food type is more important than the fuel used to cook it.”

The timely report counters the ongoing narrative from officials who continually cite flawed indoor air quality studies from environmental activists that use the topic as a route to limit consumer choice by attacking natural gas. According to the CES report:

  1. Recent headlines about the dangers of gas stoves do not align with the data.
  2. Air emissions from cooking are the biggest contributor to indoor air quality impacts and can be reduced in all cooking situations with proper ventilation.
  3. The type of appliance (natural gas or electric) used to cook food indoors is not a significant determinant of indoor air quality.
  4. Almost no study has demonstrated the human health risk from the impacts of indoor air quality from cooking source.

Correcting the Narrative

CES’ report warns that there is a mismatch between activist’s findings, the inaccurate headlines they support, and the actual data on the topic. For instance, recent headlines on RMI’s December study alleging 13 percent of childhood asthma cases nationwide could be blamed on indoor use of gas stoves, was found to have:

  1. Combined data from North American and Europe with no firm reference to substantiate the grouping.
    • Neither the North America or Europe figures were statically significant.
  2. Referenced only 27 of the 357 indoor air quality studies.
    • Authors do not identify all of the studies they selected.
  3. No significant association from gas cooking in North America with current asthma, lifetime asthma, or all asthma when the meta-analysis was stratified by study population.

In fact, when RMI’s authors were pressed on their findings, “RMI manager Brady Seals told the Washington Examiner in an email Wednesday that the think tank’s study ‘does not assume or estimate a causal relationship’ between childhood asthma and natural gas stoves.” (emphasis added)

When NPR’s Jeff Brady mentions the study, he clarifies that “nobody has actually gone out there and run a study that if you cook for gas for X number of years Y thing is going to happen.” (emphasis added)

And although the Biden administration and Consumer Product Safety Commission have stated they do not want to ban gas stoves in response to the blowback the administration faced from the mere suggestion of a ban, it hasn’t stopped Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm from amplifying these activist backed indoor air quality findings on the issue and incentivizing the removal of natural gas appliances.

Actual Solutions Ignored for Electrification Policies

The CES report stresses the importance of ventilation as a measurable reduction on the cooking process’s indoor air quality impacts.

The report clarifies that “the literature is clear that there are many factors that influence the nature and extent of chemical emissions during the cooking of food,” and when ventilation is included in the analysis, indoor air pollutants is reduced to safe standards outlined by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and California Ambient Air Quality Standards in most cooking arrangements and scenarios.

A Dept. of Energy sponsored study showed that the emission rates from the act of cooking is considerably greater than what is generated from natural gas stoves themselves. For example, using a common cooking ingredient like olive oil generates over 11 times more emissions per hour than what is produced from the gas range.

As if to make the point clear, one UCLA study commissioned by the Sierra Club report even prefaces its findings with the understanding that:

“There are indoor air quality issues associated with the use of gas cooking appliances that will remain despite the implementation of electrification, and we do not account for this. Some PM emissions are associated with cooking oils and foods, and there are no mitigation methods for this, other than the use of ventilation devices such as range hoods. We do not claim that the transition to electric appliances would make a substantial difference in terms of emissions from cooking oils and food.” (emphasis added)

However, ventilation and its importance has largely been left out of the conversation, and the topic has focused solely on the electrification of the kitchen and the home. The likely reason is because Biden officials have met with electrification advocates, RMI.

Fox News reporting has linked RMI to meeting with Sec Granholm:

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm met privately with the leader of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the group that funded a recent study used to justify calls for a gas stove ban.”

And additional Fox News reporting connects RMI with the White House’s climate czar:

“White House climate czar Ali Zaidi, who also serves as an assistant to President Biden, privately met with three officials with the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an environmental group pushing gas stove bans.

“Zaidi met Jules Kortenhorst, RMI’s CEO at the time; John Coequyt, RMI’s government affairs director; and Sarah Ladislaw, RMI’s former managing director and U.S. program leader, on March 17, 2022, in the West Wing of the White House, according to visitor logs reviewed by Fox News Digital. The three officials have extensive records advocating for net-zero and climate policies weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels.”

Bottomline: Bans on natural gas appliances will not remove the cooking process’ impacts on indoor air quality because proper ventilation and the food being cooked remain the deciding factor. According to Catalyst Environments Solutions’ newest report, headlines of claiming gas stoves’ harm to indoor air quality are largely overstated, relying on flawed methodology and poor science.

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