Pollutant Exposures from Natural Gas Cooking Burners: A Simulation-Based Assessment for Southern California
Background: Residential natural gas cooking burners (NGCBs) can emit substantial quantities of pollutants and they are typically used without venting.
Objective: Quantify pollutant concentrations and occupant exposures resulting from NGCB use in California homes.
Methods: A mass balance model was applied to estimate time-dependent pollutant concentrations throughout homes and the "exposure concentrations" experienced by individual occupants. The model was applied to estimate nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO) concentrations for one week each in summer and winter for a representative sample of Southern California homes. The model simulated pollutant emissions from NGCBs, NO2 and CO entry from outdoors, dilution throughout the home, and removal by ventilation and deposition. Residence characteristics and outdoor concentrations of CO and NO2 were obtained from available databases. Ventilation rates, occupancy patterns, and burner use were inferred from household characteristics. Proximity to the burner(s) and the benefits of using venting range hoods were also explored. Replicate model executions using independently generated sets of stochastic variable values yielded estimated pollutant concentration distributions with geometric means varying less than 10%.
Results: The simulation model estimates that in homes using NGCBs without coincident use of venting range hoods, 62%, 9%, and 53% of occupants are routinely exposed to NO2, CO, and HCHO levels that exceed acute health-based standards and guidelines. NGCB use increased the sample median of the highest simulated 1-hr indoor concentrations by 100, 3000, and 20 ppb for NO2, CO, and HCHO, respectively.
Conclusions: Reducing pollutant exposures from NGCBs should be a public health priority. Simulation results suggest that regular use of even moderately effective venting range hoods would dramatically reduce the percentage of homes in which concentrations exceed health-based standards.