WASHINGTON, DC | September 14, 2022
About 66% of U.S. residences burn methane gas (also known as natural gas), wood, propane, heating oil or other fuel for heating, drying clothes and cooking food. The use of these fuels in homes releases pollutants that impact residents’ health, according to “Health Impacts of Combustion in Homes,” a comprehensive literature review released today by the American Lung Association.
The new report explores the health and environmental impacts of indoor residential combustion, which includes gas appliances, woodburning stoves and fireplaces.
“We spend a significant amount of time at home, so our indoor air quality can have a dramatic impact on our health,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “After a comprehensive literature review, our research found that the household use of methane gas, wood, propane and heating oil impacts indoor air quality, health, and drives climate change through the emission of compounds such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, formaldehyde and others.”
Here are some key findings of the report:
- Appliances using combustion to create energy can increase asthma symptoms in children and other vulnerable populations. Studies show consistent associations between higher pollution levels and detrimental respiratory effects in children, including worse lung function for children with asthma.
- Indoor exposure to emissions from cooking on gas stoves can worsen asthma symptoms, cause wheezing, and result in reduced lung function in children, particularly in the absence of ventilation and for children living with asthma or allergies.
- Wood-burning stoves used for heating create sharp increases in indoor levels of particle pollution. Emissions from wood smoke can cause coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, and premature death, among other health effects. In fact, indoor wood burning is responsible for up to 90% of local particulate matter pollution in smaller and rural communities.
- Using fuel-burning appliances at home also impacts the environment. The report showed that residential and commercial emissions made up 13% of total U.S. global warming emissions in 2020. Petroleum-based fuels, including natural gas, propane, fuel oil and kerosene are the primary driver of these emissions.
The report found that individuals can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from combustion-related indoor air pollution, including ensuring they have a carbon monoxide monitor, using ventilation, including their stove’s range hood and not burning wood in their home. The Lung Association urges lawmakers and federal agencies to prioritize research on the health impacts of exposure to indoor air pollution, as well as enact new regulations and safety standards for common indoor air pollutants.
Read the full “Health Impacts of Combustion in Homes” literature review at Lung.org/Residential-Combustion.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.