Harlem’s WEACT, Reports On The Dangers Of Indoor Air Pollution

April 4, 2023

In honor of National Public Health Week, Harlem-based WE ACT for Environmental Justice calls attention to the dangers of indoor air pollution.

Homes that use gas stoves expose themselves to unsafe amounts of indoor air pollution. That matters, because Americans spend, on average, approximately 90 percent of their time indoors.
As you may recall, Harlem-based WE ACT for Environmental Justice recently released a report (PDF) on our Out of Gas, In with Justice pilot study. WE ACT studied the impact on indoor air quality when replacing gas stoves with induction stoves in an NYCHA development in the Bronx.

Specifically, WE ACT looked at nitrogen dioxide concentrations inside of people’s homes. Nitrogen dioxide is a harmful air pollutant produced from burning methane, which is the primary ingredient of the gas used in stoves.
According to the American Lung Association, exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory issues and has been linked to asthma, cardiovascular issues, lower birth weights, and premature death. And it is one of six pollutants deemed sufficiently dangerous that they are federally regulated by outdoor air pollution standards. Surprisingly, no standards currently exist for indoor air pollution.
What did we learn from our pilot study?

WE ACT learned that gas stoves are a dangerous source of indoor air pollution. The households with induction stoves experienced a 35 percent reduction in daily nitrogen dioxide concentrations compared to those using gas stoves, when controlling for temperature and apartment-level factors. Twenty-four-hour averages of carbon monoxide also saw a significant decrease. They also conducted controlled cooking tests, which found that nitrogen dioxide concentrations in kitchens with gas stoves were on average 190 percent higher than those with induction stoves.
What can we do?

WE ACT can start by taking indoor air pollution as seriously as Harlemites and others do outdoor air pollution. It poses a significant health risk, especially in communities that are already overburdened with outdoor air pollution. And they can advocate for better legislation and regulation to safeguard us from these dangers, especially for those who cannot afford to purchase and install induction stoves and heat pumps.
Read our latest blog post, Clearing the Air on Gas Stoves, to learn about all of our findings from the Out of Gas, In with Justice study, the other sources of harmful indoor air pollution, and the work we are doing to equitably improve indoor air quality.

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