Questions for ‘Gas stoves can spew lots of pollution, even when they’re turned off’  

A close-up photo of a gas flame on a stove top burner. The flame is blue at the bottom and red at the tip of the flame.

A new California study finds gas stoves frequently leak dangerous pollutants into kitchen air, including benzene, a cancer-causing chemical.

SEAN GLADWELL/Moment/Getty Images Plus

To accompany Gas stoves can spew lots of pollution, even when they’re turned off


Before Reading:

  1. What is natural gas? Explain what you know about natural gas as though you are chatting with a friend.  
  2. Describe the heat source in your home stove or a stove with which you are familiar. Does this stove operate by electricity or something else? Other than electricity, what do some modern stoves — maybe your own — require to work? Come up with one risk that comes with using this type of stove that does not apply to electric stoves. 

During Reading:

  1. Where does natural gas develop? What is the relationship between natural gas and fracking?
  2. Why do gas companies add a strong-scented chemical to natural gas?
  3. How many air pollutants did Kelsey Bilsback’s team discover when testing gas samples from gas stoves across California? 
  4. Which chemical did Bilsback’s team look for in its follow-up study? Why did the team choose this chemical?
  5. Why does Bilsback suspect that people may be exposed to these pollutants, even when the stove burner is turned off? 
  6. How does methane compare with carbon dioxide in terms of heat-trapping potential? 
  7. What stove-related accessory does Brett Singer encourage people to use as one way to reduce the risk of harmful indoor emissions from stoves?

After Reading:

  1. According to this story, what are two advantages of induction stoves over other stove types? What has the government done to encourage people to use induction stoves? Despite these government incentives, induction cooktops are rare. Imagine talking with someone who refuses to try an induction stove. “I’ve always used a gas stove,” the person says. “Why try something else when a gas stove works just fine?” As best you can, summarize this person’s reasons for sticking with the gas stove. Do you think this sort of opinion is rare among people or common? What might you say to such a person to persuade them to try the new stove?
  2. Set a one-minute timer and list as many household appliances as possible. Consider which is most likely to impact human health or the environment negatively. For one appliance, describe your concerns. Then, in one sentence, describe how someone could design a study to could help assess such risks.