Home Page Products Reference About Us Contact Us Articles

Press Kit


 Natural Gas and Propane - Part II

Reducing Exposure

  Vent appliances

Why it is that building codes require an exhaust flue on gas hot water heaters yet there are no venting requirements for the gas range or ovens in the kitchen? Actually, gas ovens were installed with flues up until the 1950s. Now gas ovens and ranges are allowed to produce up to 800 ppm carbon monoxide without flues.2 There are no limits on the carbon monoxide emissions allowed from gas dryers or gas fireplaces. Depending on what fireplaces are burning, they may release 1000's of ppm carbon monoxide and other chemicals. 

In a study of 47,000 chemically sensitive patients, the most important sources of indoor air pollution responsible for generating illness were the gas stove, the improperly vented water heater, and the furnace.1 Proper ventilation for hot water heaters, furnaces and fireplaces means replacing them with sealed combustion type units. A forced-exhaust option is also desired. This has a fan that forces exhaust to the outdoors. You may not be able to find sealed-combustion type systems at the local hardware store. They are usually special order. The gas fireplaces that are made to look like real fire places appear to be sealed combustion but are not. They have been found to leak.

Placing a special order for a sealed combustion type hot water heater presents an opportunity to order on-demand type water heaters. They are common in European countries. They take up less space (literally fit into a small closet) and heat water instantly. You can take a shower forever. On demand water heaters can be ordered either gas or electric.

Maintain Gas Stoves

The flame on stove burners should be blue. Yellow indicates a problem. A persistent yellow-tipped flame means there is not enough oxygen and will means an increased amount of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. A poorly adjusted gas stove can give off as much as thirty times more carbon monoxide and formaldehyde than a properly working one. Newer, pilot-less igniter type stoves are preferred to stoves with pilots that are continuously lit.

Ventilate and Isolate

  • Open a window or turn on the kitchen exhaust hood when cooking with gas.
  • When building a new home, design to isolate gas appliances from the living space or not use gas at all. The garage is not isolated. Garages are attached to the house. Gas can be drawn into homes from garages. Put the hot water in a shed attached to the home.

Carbon Monoxide Detection

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed near each gas furnace and in hot water heater closets. Carbon monoxide is just the tip of the ice burg in term of the toxic ingredients produced by burning gas. Consider replacing gas appliances with electric ones or using sealed combustion type appliances and fireplaces regardless of what the carbon monoxide indicator says.

Check for Gas Leaks

Every six months check for small gas leaks. Particularly check the red dial that controls the pilot light on water heaters. Most of these leak, including new ones. If you have a home-warranty program replacement of leaky valves is often covered. Usually it is cheaper for the insurance company to give you a new hot water heater than replace a leaky controller. The plumber should use a Tiff combustible gas or equivalent type meter. This is more accurate than using soap suds like plumbers in the old days used to detect gas leaks. Leaks are most common at pipe fittings where flex hoses connect gas pipes to appliances. Often you donít need a meter to detect a leak Ė you can smell it!

Open the Garage Door

Garages used to not be attached to the home. It must have been common sense that itís not healthy to attach the garage to the house. Engines in motor vehicles have a catalytic converter that keeps carbon monoxide emissions under 100 ppm but in the minute or two it takes warm up while the car is still in the garage they release 5,000 to 15,000 ppm carbon monoxide. Even starting a car in a garage and driving it out within one minute can leave dangerous levels of carbon monoxide behind. This stays in the garage after the car leaves and the door is closed, after which it gradually migrates into the house, raising levels in rooms adjacent and above the garage.

If you need to idle the car in the garage, install an exhaust fan in the garage that is connected to a timer that turns the fan on when the garage door is opened and turns it off 30 minutes after the garage door is closed.

Alternatives to Gas - Replace Gas with Electric

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Clean Air Guide recommends replacing gas appliances (gas water heaters, furnaces, space heaters and cook stoves) with electrical appliances.3 According to their studies, ventilating appliances did not seem to reduce health symptoms.

Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home, reports that many of her clients who do everything she recommends except remove gas from their homes have their symptoms from environmental sources remain. But almost as soon as they turn off gas appliances they start to feel better4. Dr. Alfred Zamm, author of Why your House May Endanger your Health, reports that a great many women have become sensitive to the fumes from gas stoves and when the gas range is replaced with an electric one, symptoms such as depression often disappear5

  • Cook with portable electrical units until gas stoves can be replaced with electric.
  • Replace gas hot water heaters with electric. Consider an on-demand type system.

Replacing gas with electric may not seem ecologically responsible. We have been told that electric power is not environmentally friendly. Actually, using gas generated electric power from the utility company may be more environmentally friendly than burning your own gas. Commercial power generating stations utilize technology that increases the energy efficiency of electric generation systems.  You can install a timer on an electric hot water heater that will save you money by having it on only during times of peak usage. You canít put a timer on a gas heater.

One disadvantage to using electric appliances in place of gas may be that electric appliances produce an electromagnetic field. Exposure to high levels of electro-magnetic fields can affect you. However, most people donít spend a lot of time near hot water heaters and stoves. The electric field from a gas range is not an issue because ranges use 220 V wiring. There is a magnetic field in front of an electric range when it is turned on. But overall, an electric range is probably a lesser health hazard than breathing gas fumes.

If you have a gas heater built into the wall of the room consider shutting it off and using a potable, electric space heater. The radiant style ones that look like old radiant water heaters are very efficient and comfortable. Because they radiate heat instead of heating the air they provide better heating and comfort in the room than gas heaters. Contrary to popular belief, these do not require a great deal of electrical energy compared to that required by gas heaters. Your electric bill will probably not be much more than the gas bill and youíll be more comfortable.

Back to top 
  Copyright © 2014-2017 Healthy Living Spaces LLC.  All rights reserved.   877-992-9904
Revised: July 05, 2017.

Information in this document is subject to change without notice.
Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered tra
demarks of their respective companies or trademark holders
Home Page Products Reference About Us Contact Us Articles

Media Center