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Vehicles and machinery using internal-combustion engines often garner attention when it comes to debates about greenhouse gas emissions. Something not usually scrutinized is the common household stove, but a new study draws an interesting comparison between these two very different worlds. And the figures just might surprise you.

No, we haven't changed our website to stove1.com, but when something pumping out greenhouse gases equivalent to 500,000 cars is mentioned, we take notice. That's what California researchers say in a recent study, according to a report from the Associated Press. The focus is on methane emissions from gas stoves, which obviously release gasses into the air when used but can also leak small amounts even when turned off. That's the worrisome part, because such leaks aren't accounted for in official government estimates of total stove emissions.

How much gas are we talking about here? The study claims 2.6 million tons of methane in carbon dioxide-equivalent units leak from stoves each year. According to the researchers, that's the same amount you'd find from 500,000 automobiles in the same time period. This is in addition to 6.8-million tons of CO2 that stoves emit while in use, as well as an estimated 100 million tons of emissions that leak into the atmosphere from the use and extraction of natural gas.

The authors of the study came to this conclusion after examining 53 kitchens in California featuring gas stoves. It was determined that 75 percent of total methane emissions actually occurred while the stoves were off. Aside from additional greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, in-home air quality and potential health risks are also mentioned as worrisome issues stemming from the use of gas stoves.

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