Are gas fireplaces a health hazard?



As the debate over gas stoves rages on and temperatures drop, experts weigh in on that cozy appliance in your living room.

Warm inviting interior with gas fireplace

. Gas fireplace Adobe Stock

The gas stove debate has broader implications.

Citing a study published in late December 2022 that said gas stoves are associated with an increased risk of asthma in children and are present in 35 percent of American households, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner told Bloomberg News last month that the Stoves are a “hidden danger” and “products that cannot be made safe may be banned.” Those comments quickly sparked a politicized debate that rages on.

However, the danger is not limited to gas stoves. Any gas-burning appliance such as unvented fireplaces, poorly vented or unvented gas clothes dryers, and malfunctioning heating equipment and water heaters can all introduce dangerous combustion into a home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, emissions from appliances that burn natural gas include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and small amounts of sulfur dioxide, as well as particulates.

Gary Adamkiewicz, associate professor of environmental health and exposure disparities at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health, said it’s best for people to reduce their exposure.

“The first step is to look at your gas stove as something that causes air pollution,” Adamkiewicz said. “You can reduce your exposure” by promoting the exchange of air between indoors and outdoors.

For gas stoves, this means turning on the hood fan when the stove is in use. Fans that exhaust to the outside are best, but those that recirculate the air through a filter can remove particles and grease. It is also useful to open a window in the kitchen when using the stove.

A spokesperson for the American Gas Association responded to questions from with an excerpt from their website that recommends using hood fans while cooking with both gas and electric stoves.

Adamkiewicz said he has not studied unvented gas fireplaces or the “heat-saving” devices on some clothes dryer vents, but stressed that he is limiting people’s exposure to the combustion products of appliances that burn natural gas.

“I wouldn’t divert any exhaust from a gas-burning appliance indoors,” he said.

While there is cause for concern about the effect of gas stoves on indoor air, he said, no one should panic about it.

“This is something that should be taken measured steps against,” he said. “No one should feel that gas stoves are an immediate risk to their health. There are ways to reduce your exposure.”

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