Switching From Gas to Induction Stoves Leads to Major Drop in Indoor Air Pollution in Bronx Pilot Program
In a pilot program in the Bronx, New York, a switch from gas stoves to induction stoves led to a 35% decline in nitrogen dioxide, as well as a decrease in average carbon monoxide concentrations. Additionally, controlled cooking tests found higher amounts of air pollution for apartments with gas stoves.
The pilot program, conducted by WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s (WE ACT) along with Columbia University and Berkeley Air Monitoring Group, included 20 apartment units at a complex in the Bronx. At the start of the program, 10 apartment units had their gas stoves switched to induction stoves, and 10 kept the gas stoves as a control.
Over a 10-month monitoring period, the apartments that switched to induction stoves had a 35% drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations, controlled for temperature and apartment-level factors, compared to the apartments with gas stoves. In the same 10-month period, the researchers found that 24-hour averages of carbon monoxide concentrations for households with induction stoves was 0.8 parts per million, compared to the 1.4 ppm in the homes with gas stoves.
“Switching from gas to induction stoves significantly improves indoor air quality, and reduces exposure to both nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide — two pollutants that have adverse health impacts,” Annie Carforo, WE ACT’s Climate Justice Campaigns Coordinator and leader of the pilot program, said in a statement. “Residents living in low-income communities and communities of color, like the Bronx, are already exposed to disproportionate levels of air pollution. Reducing the pollution in their homes — given that we all spend around 90 percent of our time indoors — is a significant benefit to their health.”
The researchers also conduced controlled cooking tests with six apartments: three with gas stoves, three with induction stoves. The households with gas stoves had indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations that reached 197 parts per billion, while households with induction stoves had an average of 14 ppb.
Still, WE ACT noted that switching to induction stoves may help lower indoor air pollution, but other sources of pollution, like a gas-powered boiler in the building, outdoor traffic and nearby apartments with gas stoves, can still lead to unhealthy indoor air quality.
“Due to the discovery of air pollution from other sources, we believe that whole-building conversions that bundle short-term improvements like stoves with larger retrofit projects will have the greatest impact on indoor air quality and resident health in an urban setting,” Carforo said.
Those who participated in the study did notice a difference after switching from gas stoves.
“I definitely noticed the difference,” participant Mary Rivera said. “I have asthma and didn’t know that the gas stove was contributing to it. Now I have no cough, and I don’t feel congested like before.”
Gas stoves and indoor air pollution can have an impact on human health. A recent analysis in New York found that 18.8% of childhood asthma cases “could be theoretically prevented if gas stove use was not present,” according to the study. City Limits also reported that the Bronx has higher rates of public school children with active asthma, compared to New York City in total.
The pilot program will support environmental justice policies and initiatives for which WE ACT advocates. Some of these initiatives include proposing changes to governmental policies and programs that meet low-income renters’ needs in terms of housing conditions, prioritizing whole-home retrofits for low-income housing, and passing policies to reduce indoor fossil fuel use.