Effects of Residential Gas Appliances on Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality and Public Health in California

UCLA Department of Environmental Health Sciences Research Investigates the Effect of Residential Gas Appliances on Air Quality and Public Health in California

Researchers in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have released a report focused on the impacts of residential natural gas appliances on indoor and outdoor air quality and human health, and potential benefits of widespread residential electrification. The report was commissioned by the Sierra Club. Click here to view or download.

“The goal of this report is to provide information to Californians on how pollution from gas-fired appliances affects the air they breathe, and the related health effects,” said lead researcher and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Professor and COEH faculty Yifang Zhu. “California’s state agencies often focus on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts, but there has been much less focus on how fossil fuel use in household appliances can adversely impact indoor air quality and public health.”

The indoor air quality analysis found that concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) during cooking events can exceed the levels set by national and California-based ambient air quality standards, occurring much more often for NO2 than CO. Under a cooking scenario where the stove and oven are used simultaneously for an hour, acute exposures to NO2 from cooking with gas appliances exceed the levels of national and California-based ambient air quality thresholds in more than 90% of modeled emission scenarios.

Regarding outdoor air quality, this report indicates that under a 2018 scenario where all residential gas appliances were transitioned to clean-energy electric appliances, the reduction of secondary nitrate fine particulate matter (PM2.5)  [from nitrogen oxides (NOX)] and primary PM2.5 would result in 354 fewer deaths, and 596 and 304 fewer cases of acute and chronic bronchitis, respectively. The reduction in associated negative health effects is equivalent to approximately $3.5 billion in monetized health benefits for just one year.

This report contributes to a growing body of research quantifying the air quality and health impacts from the use of gas appliances in households, and highlights several potential benefits, both health-related and economic, of residential electrification throughout the state of California.

For more information, contact the lead investigator Dr. Yifang Zhu at yifang@ucla.edu.