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Is your RV stove harming you and the environment?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
“Your gas stove could be hurting everyone around you,” shouts the headline from a recent issue of Popular Science. The subtitle, “A new report has found that stoves are constantly emitting fumes—warming the planet and endangering your health.” Is your RV stove a guilty party?

Kitchen stoves and “climate impact”

The Popular Science article trots out information from a recent report from Stanford University. The research says kitchen stoves are “constantly emitting methane” that has “a climate impact comparable to adding a half a million gas-powered cars to the roads.” It doesn’t matter, say researchers, whether the stove is actively cooking something, or not. “We found that over three-quarters of the methane emissions from stoves are emitted while the stove is off,” said Eric Lebel, the lead author of the study. “So these little tiny leaks from the stoves, they really do add up.”

Is your RV stove, while looking shiny and innocent, really adding to global warming? In a word, “No.” While there are concerns that RVers need to address in terms of safety, your RV kitchen appliance is not contributing in any great way to global warming. Does this fly in the face of the Stanford study?

What’s that gas?

Left: ISikander Iqbal on Wikimeida Commons

What needs to be taken into account is the type of gas burned in the majority of American “sticks and bricks” kitchens. When Grandma pops the turkey dinner into that great big oven, she’s pretty likely cooking with natural gas. When you putt down the road in your motorhome or trailer, you can be sure your source of cooking fuel is propane—not natural gas. There’s a big difference where the environment is concerned.

Natural gas is a byproduct of oil drilling. Initially, natural gas was seen as a bothersome “waste product,” until clever marketers found a way to use and sell it. Natural gas is made up of 70 to 90 percent methane, which many point to as a potent greenhouse gas. On the other hand, propane is actually extracted from natural gas. How much methane is in “LP” or propane? Not more than 1.6%. So the worries of warming up the atmosphere from whipping up dinner on your RV stove are basically non-existent.

But on the other hand

That doesn’t mean that cooking with gas is a completely harmless affair. There are other byproducts of gas, LP or natural, that can cause problems. Both propane and natural gas put off nitrogen oxide, in roughly the same amounts per amount of heating power. The American Lung Association warns, “Nitrogen dioxide causes a range of harmful effects on the lungs, including: Increased inflammation of the airways; worsened cough and wheezing; reduced lung function; increased asthma attacks; and greater likelihood of emergency department and hospital admissions.”

Steven Pavlov on Wikimedia Commons

With those problems in mind, who in their right mind would cook with gas? The right-minded RVer who simply reaches up and turns the switch. The switch? Yes, the range hood switch. By ventilating the kitchen, harmful nitrogen dioxide is pulled away from your RV stove and out of the rig. Interestingly, this same ventilation can remove other harmful byproducts associated with cooking, regardless of whether that stove is gas or electric.

In a perfect world, we could look forward to no harm to health, no harm to the environment. The perfect world has yet to arrive. The ability to safely transport and use a heating fuel with relative health and environmental safety at this point still looks to be in the propane gas corner. Just use it wisely.

Other stories by Russ and Tiña De Maris

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Ron H.
7 months ago

Looks like Russ triggered a bundle of pent-up discontent. I read the Stanford report and was very happy to find Mr. De Maris’ excellent follow-up article. He filled the voids and clarified the key differences between LP gas and propane. I follow the science and it’s telling us that our dear Mother Earth is in dire need of help. It’s clear that serious changes have to be made in the ways we do things. But change doesn’t come easy and isn’t always popular with the masses. We can bad-mouth our elected leaders and newsletter readers over our differences of opinion, or we can take those fights to more appropriate arenas and thank Mr. De Maris for his informative article. Thanks Russ.

Mike Whelan
7 months ago

Another Stanford politically driven study. Seriously they are getting predictable and boring. If we do it their way we all eat raw uncooked food, live in unheated houses, never wash except when it rains and give all our money to the government so they can fund these agenda driven studies. This is the same genius that brought us the electric car that in it’s production pollutes and strips the earth more than any fuels driven vehicle. We can’t figure how to recycle the batteries from them, spend all kinds of carbon credits boosting the energy outputs of the plants and stressing the electrical grids to charge them. All this for a group of elites that can afford them. Time to get back to regulating cow farts. Then we can make use of the BS.

Jesse Crouse
7 months ago

Just a thought- Can we discuss the problem and come to a common sense approach to solving it without unpleasant name calling.

Dave
7 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Nope, nothing works that way anymore.

Dave
7 months ago

Probably more dangerous omissions after eating a plate of pinto beans.😂

Mike
7 months ago

Realize that some California counties/cities only permit new construction using electricity for cooking and HVAC with New York attempting to follow suit. No gas service of any type will be permitted to be installed.
Fuel powered generators and small engine operated equipment are also on the prohibited list.
Right, wrong or otherwise, prohibitions on the use of fossil type fuels are coming to a neighborhood near you.
Might want to group up and convince the politicians they have erred.
Or not.

Thomas D
7 months ago

They never mention the natural occurrences that are constantly happening. Like the recent volcano that blew up in Tonga or the one in central America that’s been blowing for a couple years, spewing harmful ( but natural) gases into the atmosphere. Give us a break

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Thomas, thats not an issue because govt cant regulate a volcano, so its never mentioned as a major polutant.

Eric
7 months ago

We control what we can control. Averaged out, volcanos will always produce x amount of emissions. That doesn’t excuse us to consistently add a whole bunch more to that baseline.

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Who is “us”. I suggest you get on the soapbox again Eric, and clarify. Surely you dont mean this country, for if you do, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Its getting old with those who dont say exactly who the planet menaces are. What are you all afraid of?

Give it another shot, Eric.

Richard
7 months ago

Articles such as Stanford’s should be viewed as;
What is the agenda? Promoting the author? Filling space in the publication? Being sensational to get noticed? Making your quota of articles/words per month?
Given the current lack of journalistic integrity… Everywhere, accepting writings without extensive further research is foolhardy.

captain gort
7 months ago

I will use my propane powered stove, fridge, water heater, fire ring, BBQ, generator, soldering torch and anything else without even a smidgeon of guilt.

Bob M
7 months ago

Too many nuts in this world today. If we worried about everything that wasn’t good for us we’d be dead a long time ago. The trouble is our politicians listen to these nuts and make our life miserable. Electric cars is a prime example

Ernie
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

About electric cars , How many electric will be sitting along the high ways that forgot to fill up with electric?

Wayne C
7 months ago

I would like to see a study of the effect of eliminating the use of all fossil fuel. I think the result would most large cities untenable, cause wide spread starvation, and death from the heat and cold. All the resulting consequences are much worse than anything we’re experiencing now.

Dennis
7 months ago

Ha! Global warming is a fad. Back in the 70’s it was global cooling. That is why they now call it “climate change.” They figured out that the climate changes all the time. So why not cash in on it? Breathing is bad for the climate. Too much carbon dioxide!

Mike
7 months ago

Just a point of interest… Did you know that Living is hazardous to your health !!!

Wayne C
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Exactly.

CLeeNick
7 months ago

In a world where roughly half of electrical generation is produced through the burning of coal and natural gas, and given the amount of electricity generated, in raw energy terms, is ALWAYS less than the amount of energy used to produce it, I don’t give my propane burning appliances a second thought. Nor my natural gas burning ones, for that matter.

Vincee
7 months ago

Just as it has come out that the four leading scientists who declared Covid-19 started at the Chinese food market, and not created in the Wuhan lab saw their government grants skyrocket tenfold, any reporting by the scientific community is suspect. Since WWII and the Manhatten Project, the scientific community is controlled by the government called grants.

Most modern household stoves/ranges are dual fuel so you have a more evenly cooked turkey on Thanksgiving. Also, convection (fan) ovens have become popular for reduced cooking time.

Dan
7 months ago

The sky is falling!!

Donald N Wright
7 months ago

I wonder what they heat their building with at Stanford. I suspect there is a leak…

Gary
7 months ago

I’m extremely skeptical of a report from a university that uses the terms Nitrogen oxide (NO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) interchangeably.

Crowman
7 months ago

You’re worried about the stove when you just burned 30 to 100 gallons of gas or diesel to get your RV to the spot to turn on your stove? To all the people saying electric RV’s here’s a dose of reality. There’s no way as of yet to recycle Lithium batteries, Solar panels or Wind generator turbines they mostly go to landfills. So as it is in life pick your poison.

Ray
7 months ago

My guess is Stanford is looking for some more federal grant money to further study the problem. I have a suggestion for Stanford. They should use their intellect to compare the amount of methane released by NG stoves to people’s farts. I would love to read about that one. Such a study would certainly exceed the intellectual level set by our government for federal funding.

Swede'nTexas
7 months ago
Reply to  Ray

I was about to say the same, NG is emitted by all living things present, past and future. No way to eliminate it, a waste of taxpayer money for sure.

Jim Prideaux
7 months ago
Reply to  Ray

george carlin did a skit on cow farts

Montgomery D Bonner
7 months ago

1st. Our rv is all electric, induction cooktop. Second if you are stupid enough to believe the climate BS, I have a bridge to sell you.
Last week mother sun erupted in the largest sunspot this active cycle, flooding the earth with radiation, that is going to hurt you more than the pollution from energy.
I urge you, if you believe this crap, sell all your stoves/grills etc., and cook with wood, oh wait, wood smoke has hundreds of harmful by-products in it too.
WAIT-Have you considered that the earth is in constant change and has been since it was created or formed. It’s not static, its constantly changing, plates moving under or over each other volcanos going off (highest number currently erupting in recorded history), which trust me puts more harmful stuff into air, than humans will ever do.

William Gibson
7 months ago

They say that pulling oil out of the ground causes voids in the earth that in turn allows the plates to shift and Earth quakes to happen. Whole mountains have fallen in Iran. Great waves have destroyed Japan and the gulf coast has attracted Hurricanes all things that have been blamed on removing oil from under the crust of the Earth. These and other things have been claimed. Is it imaginary. Is there some truth to it I don’t know. How do we info things that are claimed to be damage. Are we expected to revert to cave man life huddling in caves to keep warm and congregating in cool under ground caverns to get out of the heat.

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