How safe is your gas stove? Here's what a new study shows.

A pan of pasta is held by over a gas flame on high.
Experts say cooking on a gas stove has some potential health hazards. (Getty Creative)

Can cooking on a gas stove cause health issues for you and your family? A new study from researchers at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability says there are potential hazards you need to be aware of.

The recent study highlighted the concerning levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in homes with gas or propane stoves. The researchers found that NO2 concentrations exceeded health benchmarks after stove use and lingered for hours. This is a problem, the researchers said, because NO2 exposure over time can make asthma attacks worse and has been linked to affecting children's lung development.

“The most surprising result was how far and fast pollution moves through the homes,” Rob Jackson, the study’s author and professor at Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability, tells Yahoo Life. “The concentrations we measure from gas and propane stoves lead to dangerous levels within an hour of lighting a stove and stay that way for hours after stoves are off — not just in kitchens but in bedrooms down the hall where our children sleep.”

Some people may believe the possible harms of cooking on a gas stove come from heating up food to a high temperature, leading to particle pollution, which refers to tiny airborne particles that can be hazardous to your health. However, Jackson’s research says food emits minimal or no nitrogen dioxide (NO2) during cooking — and electric stoves do not produce NO2 at all.

“Gas and propane stoves emit considerable nitrogen dioxide and benzene; electric stoves emit none,” he says. “Your choice of fuel — not the food you cook — dictates how much pollution you’ll breathe.”

Experts are mixed on whether you should consider swapping out your gas stove.

Dr. Lisa Patel, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine Children's Health, tells Yahoo Life that you should be concerned about having a gas stove in your house. “We now estimate that 12.7% of asthma cases in this country for childhood asthma cases are attributable to gas stoves,” she says. “That's because when you burn fossil gas inside your home, it releases a lot of concerning things, like nitrogen dioxide, which is a known respiratory irritant.”

And it’s not just nitrogen dioxide that Patel says we should be concerned about: She also points to evidence that benzene, a known carcinogen, is still present in the home hours after you turn off your gas stove. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determined that long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia.

There’s also a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with gas stoves, which is not present with electrical or induction-based cooking appliances. “There are stories of families turning on their gas burners for heat, not realizing that carbon monoxide is being released at the same time and then you can experience poisoning from it,” Patel says. “For all of these reasons, it’s important for us to start making that transition to get gas stoves out of our homes.”

Michael Bisesi, vice dean of the College of Public Health at the Ohio State University, however, tells Yahoo Life that he does not believe it's necessary to get rid of gas stoves, which would be a difficult transition. He says that the research done on gas stoves may be from gas stoves that are designed improperly, leading to leaks that release these kinds of dangerous emissions. Instead of getting rid of gas stoves, he suggests it’s more important to make sure ventilation is appropriate in the home, and that gas stove manufacturers design their appliances more efficiently.

“Whether you have a gas stove, or electric stove, there's very, very high justification and need for indoor settings, kitchens in particular, to have improved ventilation,” he says. “To me that has to be addressed simultaneously.”

If you have a gas stove, there are safety precautions you can take, outside of replacing it entirely, in order to make it safer to have in your home. Dr. Laura Purdy, a family medicine physician and medical director of Swell Medical, tells Yahoo Life to focus on fresh air. Purdy advises against keeping a gas stove on if you're not actively using it for cooking, such as for heat. “If you have a range hood, go ahead and turn on the vent to help with air flow out of the home," Purdy says. "You can also open up windows and doors when in use to also help with air flow, especially if you are using a small space without a lot of ventilation.”

While emissions such as methane may still leak out of your stove when it’s off, you can avoid the worst of it by using countertop appliances (like a countertop convection oven) when appropriate. According to Jackson’s research, you also may want to adjust how you cook food: More particle pollution comes from cooking something low and slow, as opposed to quickly on high heat.