Michael Calore: Lauren, do you have gas?
Lauren Goode: OK, like, we’re close as podcast hosts, but we’re not this close. We’re not talking about gas. Are you talking about gas stoves?
Michael Calore: I am indeed asking if you have a gas stove.
Lauren Goode: I do have a gas stove and I also have a gas car.
Michael Calore: All right.
Lauren Goode: Which I know, I know. You’re giving me that look, but sometimes I give you a ride to work, so.
Michael Calore: All right. Well, that’s not the type of gas that we’re talking about. We’re talking about natural gas.
Lauren Goode: OK, fair enough. And what exactly are we talking about?
Michael Calore: Well, let me ask you this. Have you ever felt the pressure to get rid of your gas stove?
Lauren Goode: I have entertained the thoughts of it, but one, I am a renter, and two, I kind of like the gas stove.
Michael Calore: Yeah. Yeah. I’m in the same boat.
Lauren Goode: OK.
Michael Calore: Let’s talk about it.
Lauren Goode: Yes, let’s do this.
[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]
Michael Calore: Hi everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I am Michael Calore. I’m a senior editor at WIRED.
Lauren Goode: And I’m Lauren Goode. I’m a senior writer at WIRED
Michael Calore: And we are also joined by a WIRED staff writer, Amanda Hoover. Hello, Amanda.
Amanda Hoover: Hi. Great to be here.
Michael Calore: All right. Great to have you. If you’re not up to speed on the latest culture war, well, I’ll break it down for you. Everybody is mad about gas stoves.
Lauren Goode: They’re fired up.
Michael Calore: They are.
Lauren Goode: They’re sizzling. It has sparked a conversation.
Michael Calore: The conversation is getting hot.
Lauren Goode: Yes.
Michael Calore: It turns out that using gas to heat your home and cook your oatmeal may not be the best thing for the health of the environment or the health of nearby humans. This is not new information, but a recent study about how gas stoves can cause asthma in children and release toxins into the air has sparked a fresh debate about these appliances. Amanda, you wrote a story for WIRED about how this debate is heating up.
Lauren Goode: Oh, yes.
Michael Calore: I’m going to fire whoever wrote the script. Before we get into the insane political angle surrounding the debate over gas stoves in the homes, what is the actual problem that people are talking about? Are gas stoves really that unhealthy?
Amanda Hoover: There’s been some research that shows that gas stoves are, like you said, bad for the environment and possibly bad for your health if you’re living in a home with one. They release methane, which is a greenhouse gas. They release methane even when they aren’t on. Some studies have shown that they’re just constantly leaking this out into houses and then out into the environment. Additionally, studies have shown that they could be dangerous to your health. There was a recent one at the end of last year that found that gas stoves could be responsible for almost 13 percent of cases of asthma in kids in the U.S. That’s been a similar study in Australia in recent years that found about 12.3 percent of childhood asthma cases might be attributed to gas stoves. Additionally, they release benzene, which is a known carcinogen. The thing that we don’t know, really—this hasn’t been looked at for direct health impacts over long periods of time, and an expert I spoke to said that would be the kind of study that could be really useful to track—how living with a gastro stove for many years could influence your health. Because right now what they’ve found is they’ve kind of targeted the chemicals that are coming out of gas stoves into your home and at what rates, and connecting those to what that actually means for your health living with one. There’s still a bit of a gap there aside from these asthma studies that have recently come out.
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