The results of measurements on emissions from gas cookers in 247 homes in 7 European countries: Italy, Spain, France, Holland, England, Slovakia and Romania.
Are you convinced that you breathe “good air” when you cook? If the kitchen is gas-powered, as happens in 68% of families in Italy, you need to think again. In reality, it’s like being in peak traffic in Milan. In fact, even worse. The smog hidden within the home it’s a serious problem.
Just scroll through the data in the new report CLASPthe nonprofit energy efficiency group, which conducted one in recent months study in 7 European countries, including Italywith the scientific support of the Organization for Applied Scientific Research of the Netherlands (TNO). Among the most alarming results is the fact that 72% of homes with gas stoves exceed The WHO daily guideline value for nitrogen dioxide. Given that it puts Italy in second place after Spain (77%) and before the United Kingdom (55%), Holland (54%), France (53%), Romania (52%) and Slovakia (44%).
The study in Italy
Forty families were involved, 36 were those in which data was successfully collected: 31 with gas stove, 5 with electric stove. Those who cook with gas have a significantly higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the kitchen and living room, compared to families who cook with electric appliances.
To be exceeded in 24% of cases, also in homes with gas stoves the value of the EU hourly nitrogen dioxide limitthe most dangerous one for the most fragile, while in those that cook electrically no exceedances were recorded. Almost all the houses examined, both with gas and electric stoves, exceeded the WHO daily guideline value for fine particles (PM2.5). A value that is not linked to the type of hob, but rather to the cooking itself.
Lack of ventilation
Overcomings that demonstrate a lack of adequate ventilation and how much the latter does not represent a solution. «Through the field study in Italy we found that families cooking on gas they are exposed to significantly higher levels of nitrogen dioxide than those who cook on electric. Nitrogen dioxide levels are recorded in gas cookers which exceed the WHO guide values and the limits imposed by the European Union, to the point that the most sensitive subjects, the most fragile, therefore asthmatic, feel the direct impact. Furthermore we also found that ventilation is important, but has had no impact on reducing pollutants» says Sara Demartini, CLASP project manager.
Children and vulnerable people at risk
Data that makes us think, especially if we consider the categories most at risk such as children and fragile people, as explained by Dr. Laura Reali, pediatrician and member of the European Academy of Pediatrics: «Nitrogen dioxide is a lipophilic gas that can penetrate deep into the mucous membranes and respiratory tracts.. Lungs small, evolving and more rapidly penetrable, such as those of children who breathe faster than adults, are more directly exposed and sensitive. If this then we transfer it to the situation of expectant motherthe mother who inhales nitrogen dioxide can also cause damage to her child. Of course we are talking about prolonged and intensive exposures».
«In the study in Italy we found that in homes with gas cookers the EU limit value of NO2 for one hour of exposure is exceeded in 24% of cases, while external levels remain below these values. The switch to electric cooking combined with the use of ventilation hoods, well designed to reduce exposure to high levels of particulates resulting from cooking, can bring these values below recommended levels” underlines Piet Jacobs, researcher at TNO.
Symptoms linked to gas cookers
Not surprisingly, second the previous report by CLASP and EPHA (European Alliance for Public Health) there are over 700 thousand children in the EU with asthma symptoms linked to the use of gas cooking. Asthma, but also attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders; while adults would be affected on the respiratory and nervous systems. And to say that the health effects caused by stoves have been known for over fifty years, just as studies on asthma estimates have also been conducted in the United States.
Data that surprises even those who took part in the test, like Angela, 33 years old from Massafra (Taranto), married and mother of an 11 year old child: «I never thought there would be all these emissions in my kitchen. I knew that gases were circulating, even harmful to health, but I imagined that they were so tolerable that I didn’t feel threatened. It is important to start taking action: if I want to follow a healthy and sustainable lifestyle I have to start with the data found through research.” In fact, yours is one of the kitchens with the highest level of nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particulate emissions.
A new energy label
According to CLASP, little has been done in Europe to prevent nitrogen dioxide pollution from gas cooking appliances, yet again according to research conducted by the group on consumersa considerable number of families in Europe would be ready to switch from gas to electric appliances if they knew about the health problems associated with gas cooking. Hence the importance of increasing awareness of the health impacts of gas cooking and to establish an energy label for both gas and electric cooking appliances.
Reason why, on the occasion of a stakeholders meeting with EU officials set for 30 November, CLASP will ask for a new energy label to compare the efficiency of gas and electric hobs and to highlight pollution levels. «By facilitating the transition to electric cooking, we can pave the way for healthier, safer and more sustainable families» says Nicole Kearney, director of CLASP Europe.
An “electric” future: but how much does it cost?
According to CLASP, the use of the hood and relying on families for correct ventilation of the environment are not sufficient. The best solution remains the switch to electric. Yet the costs remain the doubt of Angela and many like her: «The thing that still stops me in converting my hob from gas to electric are the costs, because I don’t know how much it consumes. If I believe that an induction hob is more sustainable and healthy than a gas one, then I could convert this appliance into my home.” For this reason CLASP recommends the introduction by the EU and the Italian government of adequate support policies to facilitate the energy transition and protect citizens from the impact of gas cookers.
How the research was conducted
The objective of CLASP was to evaluate the impacts of polluting emissions from gas cookers on people’s health. The study consisted of two phases: the first, simulation; the second measuring in 247 homes in 7 European countries: Italy, Spain, France, Holland, England, Slovakia and Romania. The families were recruited through Opinium, a market research company. Participants were selected based on their frequency of using the kitchen, excluding families of smokers and those who lived near industrial complexes. The families were not aware of the specific motivation for the study, so as not to be influenced in their behavior. 80% of them use gas cookers and 20% electric cookers.
The measurements were conducted by sending a kit of sensors, which had to be installed in the kitchen, in the living room, in a bedroom, preferably the one where children sleep, and outside the house. Measurements of air pollutant concentrations were taken and with temperature sensors on the hob and oven door to determine cooking times. Nitrogen dioxide samplers have been positioned outside the houses to have a comparison with internal levels. In houses with gas cooking, NO2 levels were higher than those recorded outside. The measurements were carried out for 13 days in each house.
November 8, 2023 (modified November 8, 2023 | 07:54)
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