WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Out of Gas, In with Justice Pilot Finds Significant Improvements in Indoor Air Quality When Transitioning from Gas to Induction Stoves in Affordable Housing

January 31, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542, chris@weact.org


NEW YORK — WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s (WE ACT) Out of Gas, In with Justice pilot found significant reductions in indoor air pollution when transitioning from gas to induction stoves. Conducted at 1471 Watson Avenue in the Bronx, which is slated to be the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) first all-electric building conversion, the study replaced gas stoves in 10 intervention apartments while 10 control apartments retained their gas stoves. The study is the first in the United States to monitor indoor air quality in homes transitioning from gas stoves to electric induction stoves with residents in-place in affordable housing.

During WE ACT’s 10-month air quality monitoring period, households with induction stoves experienced a 35 percent reduction in daily nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations compared to those using gas stoves, when controlling for temperature and apartment-level factors. During this same period, 24-hour averages of carbon monoxide (CO) for households with gas stoves reached concentrations of 1.4 parts per million (ppm) whereas households with induction stoves had a 24-hour average of 0.8 ppm, a significant decrease.

“Switching from gas to induction stoves significantly improves indoor air quality, and reduces exposure to both nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide – two pollutants that have adverse health impacts,” said Annie Carforo, WE ACT’s Climate Justice Campaigns Coordinator, who led the Out of Gas, In with Justice pilot. “Residents living in low-income communities and communities of color, like the Bronx, are already exposed to disproportionate levels of air pollution. Reducing the pollution in their homes – given that we all spend around 90 percent of our time indoors – is a significant benefit to their health.”

In addition to the long-term air monitoring, controlled cooking tests conducted in three apartments with gas stoves and three with induction stoves found that NO2 concentrations when cooking with gas stoves increased to an average of 197 parts per billion (ppb). This concentration level is well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) outdoor air quality level deemed “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (100 ppb). Meanwhile, NO2 concentrations in kitchens with induction stoves remained at an average of 14 ppb, similar to background levels of NO2. When cooking a standardized meal on both a gas and induction stove in the NYCHA development, NO2 concentrations in kitchens with gas stoves were on average 190 percent higher than in kitchens with induction stoves.

While air quality improvements in induction households were significant, the pilot study found that NO2 from other sources – confounders that could potentially include the building’s gas-powered boiler in the basement, cars traveling on adjacent streets, neighboring apartments with gas stoves, etc. – continued to impact household air quality.

“Due to the discovery of air pollution from other sources, we believe that whole-building conversions that bundle short-term improvements like stoves with larger retrofit projects will have the greatest impact on indoor air quality and resident health in an urban setting,” added Carforo.

Part of the pilot included participant focus groups to assess attitudes and opinions of gas stoves, induction stoves, and the transition process. Participants unanimously loved their new induction stoves, citing reasons including the ease of cooking, the time savings because the induction stove cooks faster and is easier to clean, and the decreased reliance on other appliances. Participants also expressed relief that their safety concerns about cooking with gas, including that their home could catch on fire due to gas stove malfunctioning or leaking, were entirely alleviated with the induction stove.

“I definitely noticed the difference. I have asthma and didn’t know that the gas stove was contributing to it. Now I have no cough, and I don’t feel congested like before,” said Mary Rivera, resident of 1471 Watson Avenue who received an induction stove as part of the intervention group.

The findings of this pilot have informed a number of policy recommendations for which WE ACT for Environmental Justice is advocating. For example, we propose adjusting government policies and programs so they meet the needs of low-income renters who have limited autonomy over housing conditions; restructuring existing programs to focus on whole-home retrofits and prioritizing low-income housing; and passing policies that will reduce the use of fossil fuels in homes. Detailed recommendations, including proposed legislation, can be found on Page 44 of our report.

“Reducing our exposure to harmful air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide is a public health necessity. It also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with approximately 70 percent of New York City’s emissions coming from burning fossil fuels in buildings,” explained Sonal Jessel, M.P.H., Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “That is why we urge attention to this public health crisis. Low-income people and people of color to deserve to breathe clean air, including inside their homes, and right now their choices are limited.”

WE ACT would like to thank Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Berkeley Air Monitoring, Association for Energy Affordability, and NYCHA for working with us on the Out of Gas, In with Justice pilot.

You can download a copy of the Out of Gas, In with Justice report, b-roll video, and images here. We will be adding video and images from the press conference there as well. And you can watch the video shown at the press conference here.

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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