Health and Safety Research on Gas

A selection of research on the health and safety risks with gas, its impact on climate, and the jobs potential from an energy transition to all-electric clean, renewable energy.

Health and Safety Impacts

Health Effects from Gas Stove Pollution by Physicians for Social Responsibility

Summary: This report presents scientific evidence that gas stoves release several hazardous pollutants, notably nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, that can lead to respiratory, neurological, and cardiovascular effects, as well as increased risks of cancer and birth defects.

Health Impacts of Combustion in Homes by American Lung Association

Summary: This literature review collected scientific studies on appliances using combustion to create energy and found an increase in worsening asthma symptoms in children and other vulnerable population.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning by Center for Disease Control

Summary: This FAQ section discusses the dangers of carbon monoxide, a potentially fatal odorless, colorless gas produced anytime a fuel is burned on stoves, grills, lanterns, fireplaces, and gas ranges. Carbon monoxide can build up indoors without proper ventilation and poison people and animals that breathe it.

Natural Gas Used in Homes Contains Hazardous Air Pollutants by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Summary: This hazard identification study quantified air pollutant levels in nearly 70 kitchens and found that even when stoves and ovens aren’t on, toxic chemicals are leaking into our homes. The results from this study also highlight that gas leaks occur throughout gas distribution systems – in gas pipes all over our neighborhoods and cities.

PM2.5 Polluters Disproportionately and Systemically Affect People of Color in the US By Science Advances

Summary: This study quantified the particulate matter exposure caused by various sectors and measured each sector’s impact across income, race, and state. The results show that not only do PM2.5 exposures disproportionately expose POC in every sector type/state/city, but that residential gas combustion and commercial cooking are one of the largest contributors to disparities disproportionately affecting POC.

Natural Gas and Propane Fires, Explosions, and Leaks Estimates and Incident Descriptions by the National Fire Protection Association

Summary: This 2018 report summarizes fire safety hazards posed by gas in the U.S. An estimated average of 4,200 home structure fires per year started with the ignition of natural gas. These fires caused an average of 40 deaths per year. The statistics, incident descriptions from NFPA publications and reports from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show that most major gas incidents involved some type of leak. In the U.S., local fire departments respond to an average of 340 natural gas or LP-Gas leaks per day with no ignition. Although gas leaks are much more common than gas ignitions, they can be precursors to devastating events. Since 2007, these incidents have generally been increasing.

Climate Impacts

Climate Solutions: High-Efficency Heat Pumps by Project Drawdown

Summary: Project Drawdown uses cost analysis and climate modeling to demonstrate the savings and climate impacts of switching from gas powered HVAC systems to high-efficiency heat pumps. Depending on the level of heat pump adoption, the two different scenarios’ results show us avoiding 4-9 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and saving $1-2 trillion in operating costs by 2050.

Quantifying Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Water Heaters by American Chemical Society

Summary: The goal of this study was to quantify methane emissions from water heaters in 64 northern California homes. Water heaters create methane emissions through natural gas leaks and incomplete combustion in each usage phase: off, turning on, and on. Both tank-type water heaters and tankless water heaters release small doses of unburnt methane every time they fire up, which adds up to a higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide emissions.

Methane and NOx Emissions from Natural Gas Stoves, Cooktops, and Ovens in Residential Homes By American Chemical Society

Summary: A review of 53 homes showed gas stoves in their steady-state-off mode release methane emissions comparable to that of carbon emissions from 500,000 cars. Nitrogen oxide (a dangerous air pollutant) levels measured in 32 homes suggested that using a gas stove without a range hood or proper ventilation can lead to NO2 levels higher than the national standard within minutes.

Energy Transition Job Potential

California Building Decarbonization Workforce Needs and Recommendations by UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation

In a modeled study, building electrification in California could support an average of 64,200–104,100 jobs annually, after accounting
for losses in the gas industry.

Department of Energy 2021 Jobs Report by U.S. Department of Energy

Summary: The United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER) showed that the energy efficiency sector alone created 57,741 jobs and saw an increase of 2.7% from 2020 to 2021. In comparison, the fuel sector saw a decrease of 29,270 jobs which resulted in a 3.1% decrease in jobs from 2020 to 2021.

Residential Building Electrification in California: Consumer Economics, Greenhouse Gases, and Grid Impacts by Energy and Environmental Economics

Summary: In this home modeling study, a cost analysis shows significant savings for heat pump HVAC systems compared to a gas furnace with an AC unit system. In addition, consumers should see bill savings when they retrofit existing homes to have both a heat pump water heater and a heat pump HVAC.

The Economics of Electrifying Buildings by Rocky Mountain Institute

Summary: A study of 4 U.S. Cities (including Oakland, CA) demonstrates that both new construction and retrofit scenarios lead to cost-saving benefits. The highest saving retrofit scenarios are when residents eliminate propane use, upgrade gas furnace and AC units simultaneously, and when rooftop solar is used in conjunction with electrification.