Study: Cancer-causing gas leaking from CA stoves, pipes

Oct 20, 2022, 4:00 AM | Updated: 8:08 am

Gas stoves in California homes are leaking cancer-causing benzene, researchers found in a new study published on Thursday, though they say more research is needed to understand how many homes have leaks.

In the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology on Thursday, researchers also estimated that over 4 tons of benzene per year are being leaked into the atmosphere from outdoor pipes that deliver the gas to buildings around California — the equivalent to the benzene emissions from nearly 60,000 vehicles. And those emissions are unaccounted for by the state.

The researchers collected samples of gas from 159 homes in different regions of California and measured to see what types of gases were being emitted into homes when stoves were off. They found that all of the samples they tested had hazardous air pollutants, like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX), all of which can have adverse health effects in humans with chronic exposure or acute exposure in larger amounts.

Of most concern to the researchers was benzene, a known carcinogen that can lead to leukemia and other cancers and blood disorders, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The finding could have major implications for indoor and outdoor air quality in California, which has the second highest level of residential natural gas use in the United States.

“What our science shows is that people in California are exposed to potentially hazardous levels of benzene from the gas that is piped into their homes,” said Drew Michanowicz, a study co-author and senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, an energy research and policy institute. “We hope that policymakers will consider this data when they are making policy to ensure current and future policies are health-protective in light of this new research.”

Homes in the Greater Los Angeles, the North San Fernando Valley, and the San Clarita Valley areas had the highest benzene in gas levels. Leaks from stoves in these regions could emit enough benzene to significantly exceed the limit determined to be safe by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment.

This finding in particular didn’t surprise residents and health care workers in the region who spoke to The Associated Press about the study. That’s because many of them experienced the largest-known natural gas leak in the nation in Aliso Canyon in 2015.

Back then, 100,000 tons of methane and other gases, including benzene, leaked from a failed well operated by Southern California Gas Co. It took nearly four months to get the leak under control and resulted in headaches, nausea and nose bleeds.

Dr. Jeffrey Nordella was a physician at an urgent care in the region during this time and remembers being puzzled by the variety of symptoms patients were experiencing. “I didn’t have much to offer them,” except to help them try to detox from the exposures, he said.

That was an acute exposure of a large amount of benzene, which is different from chronic exposure to smaller amounts, but “remember what the World Health Organization said: there’s no safe level of benzene,” he said.

Kyoko Hibino was one of the residents exposed to toxic air pollution as a result of the Aliso Canyon gas leak. After the leak, she started having a persistent cough and nosebleeds and eventually was diagnosed with breast cancer, which has also been linked to benzene exposure. Her cats also started having nosebleeds and one recently passed away from leukemia.

“I’d say let’s take this study really seriously and understand how bad (benzene exposure) is,” she said.

___

Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Sri Lankan government soldiers march carrying national flags during the 75th Independence Day cerem...
Associated Press

Sri Lanka marks independence anniversary amid economic woes

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka marked its 75th independence anniversary on Saturday as a bankrupt nation, with many citizens angry, anxious and in no mood to celebrate. Many Buddhists and Christian clergy had announced a boycott of the celebration in the capital, while activists and others expressed anger at what they see as […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden makes progress on ‘unity agenda’ outlined in 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year ago, President Joe Biden used his first State of the Union address to push top Democratic priorities that were sure to face a battle in the narrowly divided Congress but he also laid out a four-pronged “unity agenda” that would be an easier sell. Biden’s unity goals would be hard […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

New California oil well ban put on hold for voters to decide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s new law banning new oil and gas wells near homes, schools and other community sites has been put on hold until after voters decide next year whether to throw it out, officials announced Friday. Opponents of Senate Bill 1137 gathered more than 623,000 valid voter signatures to put a referendum […]
1 day ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an ina...
Associated Press

Florida lawmakers to meet next week on Disney, immigration

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet next week to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and debate proposals on immigration and election crimes, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to leverage national political fissures ahead of an expected White House run. Republican leaders of the Legislature, in coordination with […]
1 day ago
FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for chil...
Associated Press

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Children in California won’t have to get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials confirmed Friday, ending one of the last major restrictions of the pandemic in the nation’s most populous state. Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the policy in 2021, saying it would eventually apply to all […]
1 day ago
Part of the 988helpline.org website is photographed Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. A cyberattack caused a ne...
Associated Press

Feds say cyberattack caused suicide helpline’s outage

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack caused a nearly daylong outage of the nation’s new 988 mental health helpline late last year, federal officials told The Associated Press Friday. Lawmakers are now calling for the federal agency that oversees the program to prevent future attacks. “On December 1, the voice calling functionality of the 988 Lifeline […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Study: Cancer-causing gas leaking from CA stoves, pipes