Americans may be exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution in their homes
In just 20 minutes of cooking, Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can surpass 1000 ppm and be in the red zone.
As we shut our windows and insulate our homes for the fall and winter, OEC has some tips for you to save your air-quality during the colder months. As we have previously written, tens of millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution in their home due to gas stoves and gas appliances, and these appliances contribute to global warming.
We at OEC did some research of our own. Our Environmental Health Program Director, Jamie Pang, installed an indoor air quality monitor and monitored her air quality during the devastating wildfires this past September.
What we found was concerning. In just 20 minutes of cooking, Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can surpass 1000 ppm into the red zone, and release climate warming greenhouse gases into our homes. During a wildfire, when it is unsafe to open windows, indoor air PM 2.5 can surpass 200 ug/m3. If you combine these two threats to air quality the way we have had to this fire season, the air in your home can become very unhealthy.
While people usually do not think of CO2 as a byproduct of gas appliances, CO2 is more than just a greenhouse gas. When at elevated levels, too much CO2 can cause: headaches, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. And too much PM 2.5 inhalation can also cause asthma, coughing, etc. This is particularly challenging when external air quality is bad for extended periods of time, such as during wildfire season.
The health and climate impacts of gas appliances illustrate the importance of electrifying buildings, electrifying new construction, and Oregon’s Green New Deal/just transition for climate action and economic justice.
Regardless of what changes we can make at the policy level, we should all still be trying to save our indoor air quality and protect our health. If you cannot change out your gas appliances and replace them with electric ones, good ventilation is key.
- Turn on the hood vent when you cook. That will suck up polluted air and bring it outdoors.
- If outdoor air quality is good, open a window.
- If it is cold outside, opening the window for just 10 minutes makes a difference.