Pipes and Stoves in California Homes Are Spewing Carcinogenic Gas

According to a new and troubling study, in communities across California the air inside your house may also be killing you

After decades leading the U.S. in its attempts at combatting air pollution and furiously handing down new regulations against any gas-powered conveyance no matter the size, a disturbing report published Thursday indicates that despite California’s efforts to make the outside air safer—the real danger could be coming from inside the house!

Gas stoves in California homes are leaking cancer-causing benzene, according to a new study by researchers at Environmental Science and Technology. The authors report that by applying previously recorded natural gas and methane emission rates throughout California’s transmission, storage, and distribution systems, they’ve estimated yearly “statewide benzene emissions of 4,200 [tons]… that are currently not included in any statewide inventories.”

That tonnage, researchers say, is “equal to the annual benzene emissions from nearly 60,000 light-duty gasoline vehicles.”

According to the scientists, “Unburned natural gas emissions from household appliances, even while they are off, have the potential to be a health-relevant source of benzene in indoor air.”

It grows darker still. “Additionally, we found that NG leakage from stoves and ovens while not in use can result in indoor benzene concentrations that can exceed the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment 8-h Reference Exposure Level of 0.94 [parts per billion per volume]─benzene concentrations comparable to environmental tobacco smoke.”

The analysts say their evidence, based on 159 households sampled in California, supports the need for further study to improve their “understanding of leaked downstream natural gas as a source of health risk.”

Based on model results, researchers said, an elevated leakage rate of benzene as well as a low ventilation rate are both requisite for indoor concentrations to exceed the OEHHA’s limits for benzene.

The lousiest news, perhaps not surprisingly, was in store for the the Greater Los Angeles area, along with the North San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys, with the authors duly recording, “Notably, the 14 samples collected in this region─including 8 unique sites and 5 repeated samples in different months─exhibited some of the highest benzene and BTEX content observed throughout the entire study.”

When storing your personal oxygen supply in the future, please remember that it can be a major fire hazard in any home or anti-undead/fuel ravager shelter if not properly contained.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today