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Video: NYC residents have cleaner air after ditching gas stoves

A pilot study at a public-housing complex in the Bronx found that air quality drastically improved in apartments that switched to electric induction stoves.
By Maria Gallucci

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A mother and daughter bake cookies in their kitchen with an electric oven
Mary Rivera and her daughter bake cookies in their electric oven. (WE Act for Environmental Justice)

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Last year, Mary Rivera replaced the gas stove in her New York City home with an electric induction version. Rivera, who has asthma, says she soon noticed feeling less congested whenever she cooked inside her public-housing apartment in the Bronx.

Now I have no cough,” she says in a new video produced by WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a nonprofit group.

The video was released in late January just as America’s kitchen appliances were being thrust into the political spotlight — over the past few weeks, Republican lawmakers have been rallying, they say, to save gas stoves from extinction. Their efforts are largely a reaction to recently published research and growing public concern about the health risks that burning fossil gas in kitchens poses to children and adults. (Gas stoves also leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas.)

With its latest pilot study, WE ACT has added to the mounting evidence.

The organization recently monitored the indoor air quality of homes using gas and electric stoves. For the project, Rivera’s household and nine others in the same Bronx building were given an induction stove. Ten neighboring households kept their gas stoves to serve as the control group.

After a 10-month monitoring period, households with electric appliances saw a 35 percent drop in daily concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) compared to those using gas stoves, WE ACT states in its report. NO2 can irritate people’s lungs, cause symptoms such as wheezing and coughing, and contribute to the development of respiratory diseases, including asthma.

The households with electric induction stoves also saw significantly lower daily averages of carbon monoxide (CO) — about 43 percent less — than households burning gas to cook. Even at low concentrations, CO can cause fatigue and lead to chest pain in people with heart disease.

In the video, Rivera and other residents of 1471 Watson Avenue share what they learned from the study and why they now prefer cooking with electricity. With my induction stove, it’s never having to worry about leaving the gas on, going to sleep with the gas on. It’s a lot safer,” says another participant, Ayana Kai-Sutton.

WE ACT conducted the pilot program in partnership with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Association for Energy Efficiency, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Berkeley Air Monitoring. NYCHA itself is planning to electrify the entire 96-unit housing complex in the Bronx by installing heat pumps and a new electrified water-heating system.

Since the study wrapped, no one who received an induction stove has asked for their old gas unit back, news website The City reported. And residents in the 10 control apartments say they are eager to get induction stoves for themselves.

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Maria Gallucci is a senior reporter at Canary Media. She covers emerging clean energy technologies and efforts to electrify transportation and decarbonize heavy industry.