April 22, 2024

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Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

Latest from PNAS: Inhaling 100 billion to 10 trillion nanometer particles far exceeds automobile exhaust.

Food is considered paramount by the people, and perhaps half of the Chinese people’s love for home is poured into the kitchen. The stove is not just a place for cooking; it represents the warmth of home, memories, and the deepest emotions of the Chinese people. Even now, many households still observe the beautiful tradition of worshipping the “Kitchen God” during the Chinese New Year.

After millions of years of evolution, the form of stoves has continuously evolved, and their content has also become richer. From the earth-built stoves of our grandparents’ generation to the cast-iron stoves of the 1970s, and then to the common tabletop stoves still in use today, as well as more technological stoves like ovens, induction cookers, and air fryers, the development history of stoves showcases human wisdom and technological progress.

However, could the gas stoves found in millions of households be a “health assassin”?!

Recently, a study published in the latest issue of PNAS Nexus has delivered a “shock” to people! During the cooking process using propane gas, gas stoves emit a large amount of atmospheric nanocluster aerosols (NCA), resulting in an indoor atmospheric NCA emission factor as high as 1016 NCA/kg-fuel, a value even exceeding that of gasoline and diesel engine vehicles.

Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

In other words, using a gas stove to cook indoors exposes the cook, as well as their family and children, to high concentrations of nanoparticles, which over time can lead to a series of respiratory and even systemic diseases.

It is unbelievable that gas stoves can emit so much NCA, and this “toxicity” is no less than directly standing by the roadside and inhaling car exhaust!

First, let’s explain what “NCA” is. NCA refers to nanoscale molecular clusters with a diameter of 1-3nm, which are crucial interfaces in the formation and growth process of new large particles from gas-phase precursors. Unlike dust particles floating in the air, these nanoparticles are really small and have been overlooked by people.

However, despite their small size, NCAs can cause significant harm. After inhaling NCA, it not only deposits heavily in the respiratory system (the deposition rate of NCA in the upper respiratory tract is significantly higher than other ultrafine particles below 100nm) but also may move between cells and enter the bloodstream, thereby transferring to important organs such as the liver and brain.
At the same time, NCAs have a high surface area to volume ratio. Therefore, these ultrafine particles tend to have higher biological activity, and they are more likely to exhibit adverse cytotoxic, apoptotic, and proinflammatory effects on eukaryotic and endothelial cells; in other words, NCAs have stronger biological activity and toxicity.

Given that “indoor NCA exposure has become a major public health concern,” researchers built a small house called the Zero Energy Design Guidance Engineer (zEDGE) at Purdue University as a laboratory and used a new high-resolution nanoparticle size spectrometer (PSMPS) to measure the quantity-size distribution of indoor NCA in real time.
It is worth mentioning that using conventional indoor air pollution markers, such as PM2.5 mass concentration and nitrogen oxides (NO+NO2) mixing ratio, cannot accurately predict the indoor concentration of NCA generated by combustion. Therefore, it is necessary to use high-resolution online nanoparticle measurement to measure indoor NCA.

Researchers used a gas stove to boil water and bake cheese and recorded the dynamic changes of NCA during the cooking process. The results showed that during the use of propane gas for cooking, a very high concentration of atmospheric NCA (NNCA) was generated indoors, reaching up to 105-107/cm3, far exceeding the concentration levels reported for urban and rural outdoor locations.
During the active phase of gas combustion (e.g., during cooking on a gas stove), the indoor concentration of NCA increased rapidly, indicating that the rate of NCA generation far exceeded the rate of NCA loss, imposing a significant respiratory burden on residents.
Specifically, in the boiling water experiment, the background aerosol concentration was relatively low, so a high concentration of NCA could be monitored throughout the combustion process. On the other hand, the high-temperature cooking of butter released a large number of larger atmospheric aerosol particles ranging from 10 to 1000nm, although the concentration of NCA decreased, it significantly increased the indoor atmospheric NCA condensation and removal potential.

Monitoring data showed that within 20 minutes of propane gas combustion, the indoor NCA concentration increased from 102 to 105-106/cm3, and shortly after, it even increased to around 107/cm3.
Moreover, after cooking, new nucleated NCA with a diameter of 1.18-1.5nm could still be captured indoors. Researchers suggested that these detected NCAs are likely to be initial smoke particles generated by the flame, composed of fullerenes, graphene, and partially matured nano organic carbon particles (NOC).
To give readers a more intuitive understanding of this figure, let’s take a few examples: after just 20 minutes of cooking, the indoor NCA concentration is about 10 times higher than that of the air in cities in the Pearl River Delta, China, and the aerosol Fuchs surface area indoors exceeds the observed value in the air of Beijing. In addition, the NCA emission factor after propane gas combustion is similar to the emission factor of diesel engines under higher loads or near roads during traffic peaks.

To put it bluntly, cooking a hearty dinner in the kitchen is equivalent to standing by a busy street and inhaling car exhaust for 20 minutes!

So, what kind of health hazards can indoor atmospheric NCA produced during cooking pose to the human body? Who are the high-risk groups that need to be particularly careful?
The study found that during cooking with propane gas, a large amount of NCA is formed in indoor air, significantly increasing the cumulative respiratory deposition dose of NCA in the head’s respiratory tract and tracheobronchial region. Specifically, the dose of NCA contacted by the head’s airway is the highest, followed by the tracheobronchial region, and then the lungs.
Just 20 minutes of cooking can increase the NCA deposition dose in the adult respiratory system from billions to trillions, with most of it coming from NCA <1.5nm. However, after measuring the age-specific body weight-normalized NCA dose rate, it was found that children’s exposure to NCA dose rate is much higher than that of adults—about 2.3 times higher in the head’s airway, 2.2 times higher in the tracheobronchial region, and 3.0 times higher in the lungs!
Researchers emphasize that this data and results should be taken seriously. Previous studies have found a close relationship between indoor gas combustion and childhood asthma; similarly, a survey conducted among adults in Europe showed that gas cooking may increase the risk of respiratory diseases.

In summary, researchers found that cooking food with propane gas can emit up to 106-107 levels of nanocluster aerosols. This means that cooking for just 20 minutes can deposit 100 billion to 10 trillion NCAs in

the adult respiratory tract, which is 10-100 times higher than inhaling car exhaust emissions while standing on a busy street, but even higher for children. And these nanoparticles silently enter people’s respiratory systems and deposit, further spreading to other organs, leading to the occurrence of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Coincidentally, a previous paper published by a research team from Stanford University in Environmental Science & Technology also indicated that gas stoves and ovens release the carcinogen benzene during combustion, causing indoor benzene concentrations to exceed health thresholds! Not only does it increase indoor air pollution, but it may also threaten human health. (Details can be found at: Gas stove carcinogenic? Stanford University’s amazing discovery: Benzene released by gas stoves can cause cancer, and post-cooking concentrations exceed health thresholds!)

However, food still needs to be eaten! Therefore, I suggest that when using a gas stove for cooking, first, make sure to close the doors of the bedroom and kitchen to physically block the space, especially for families with children. At the same time, open the kitchen windows for good ventilation, and turn on the range hood to the maximum power, which may reduce the concentrations of NCA, benzene, and other harmful substances in a shorter time.
Of course, if you are concerned about the health hazards of gas stoves, you can also use induction cookers and electric ovens more often to minimize the use of gas stoves. For example, you can use an induction cooker for long stewing and use the gas stove for quick stir-frying, adjusting step by step!

Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

References: Cooking with a gas stove for 20 minutes can be carcinogenic and harmful to the respiratory tract!

[1]Satya S Patra, Jinglin Jiang, Xiaosu Ding, Chunxu Huang, Emily K Reidy, Vinay Kumar, Paige Price, Connor Keech, Gerhard Steiner, Philip Stevens, Nusrat Jung, Brandon E Boor, Dynamics of nanocluster aerosol in the indoor atmosphere during gas cooking, PNAS Nexus, Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2024, pgae044, https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae044
[2]Kashtan YS, Nicholson M, Finnegan C, Ouyang Z, Lebel ED, Michanowicz DR, Shonkoff SBC, Jackson RB. Gas and Propane Combustion from Stoves Emits Benzene and Increases Indoor Air Pollution. Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Jul 4;57(26):9653-9663. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.2c09289. Epub 2023 Jun 15. PMID: 37319002; PMCID: PMC10324305.

(source:internet, reference only)

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