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Methane and NOx Emissions from Natural Gas Stoves, Cooktops, and Ovens in Residential Homes

Authors: 
Lebel ED, CJ Finnegan, Z Ouyang RB Jackson
Year: 
2022
Journal: 
Environmental Science and Technology

Natural gas stoves in >40 million U.S. residences release methane (CH4)—a potent greenhouse gas—through postmeter leaks and incomplete combustion. We quantified methane released in 53 homes during all phases of stove use: steady-state-off (appliance not in use), steady-state-on (during combustion), and transitory periods of ignition and extinguishment. We estimated
that natural gas stoves emit 0.8−1.3% of the gas they use as unburned methane and that total U.S. stove emissions are 28.1 [95% confidence interval: 18.5, 41.2] Gg CH4 year−1. More than three-quarters of methane emissions we measured originated during steady-state-off. Using a 20-year timeframe for methane, annual methane emissions from all gas stoves in U.S. homes have a climate impact comparable to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of 500 000 cars. In addition to methane emissions, co-emitted health damaging air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) are released into home air and can trigger respiratory diseases. In 32 homes, we measured NOx (NO and NO2) emissions and found them to be linearly related to the amount of natural gas burned (r2 = 0.76; p< 0.01). Emissions averaged 21.7 [20.5, 22.9] ng NOx J−1, comprised of 7.8 [7.1, 8.4] ng NO2 J−1 and 14.0 [12.8, 15.1] ng NO J−1. Our data suggest that families who don’t use their range hoods or who have poor ventilation can surpass the 1-h national standard of NO2 (100 ppb) within a few minutes of stove usage, particularly in smaller kitchens.

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