Kitchens with gas cooktops three times as polluted as highways

June 8th, 2012

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Are you having trouble breathing easily in your home?  Asthma playing up? Air in your kitchen not smelling so great?

Your gas cooktop could be the culprit.

A recent study from the University of Sheffield has found that homes using gas cooktops can contain three times as much nitrogen dioxide as what’s found in the air in city centre hotspot, or in the air from alongside busy highways.

Warning: Science Content

  • Nitrogen dioxide is NOT the fun laughing gas you get at the dentist.  That’s nitrous oxide.
  • Nitrogen dioxide is one of many chemical by-products of most kinds of combustion, from open fires to car engines to, yes, gas burners.
  • Nitrogen dioxide is toxic to breathe in sufficient quantities and even in small doses, it can cause breathing difficulties and be especially bad for asthmatics.
  • For more information on nitrogen dioxide, contact the Australian Govenment Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities.

According to the study, the average nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the kitchens of flats with gas cookers were higher than the levels set by the UK Government as its objective for outdoor air quality in both London and England.

The study also said that keeping homes airtight to reduce heating costs, thereby limiting natural airflow through the home, also contributed to the findings.


If you’re worried about the effect your gas cooktop is having on your home’s air quality, there are a few ways you can manage it:

  • Switching to an electric or induction cooktop can remove combustion from your kitchen entirely.  However, this could have a greater impact on both your power bill and the global environment in the big picture – according to, unless your electricity is generated by non-polluting, renewable energy (such as Tasmania’s hydro power), you’ll contribute more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere using electricity rather than gas.
  • According to the study, lack of ventilation was one reason for a build-up of pollutants in the home.  Simply opening a few windows can help you to keep breathing easily, though in the middle of a freezing winter, this may not be viable.
  • A good quality kitchen rangehood can vent gases produced from cooking into the atmosphere, or clean and recirculate your kitchen’s air.  If you take the option of a recirculating rangehood, be sure to regularly clean and replace the filters to keep it running effectively.
  • For further improvement in your home’s air quality, you can always rely on a portable air purifier or an air conditioner that includes filters to keep conditions healthy.  Some air purifiers even include an air quality sensor  to detect local impurity levels, so you can keep track of conditions in your home for yourself.

Gas cooktops are great to cook on, with great heating speed, precise temperature control and economical operation.  While they do produce emissions that can prove harmful if allowed to build up in your home, proper ventilation should keep you and your loved ones safe.

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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