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Toxic to Us, the Climate

Gas utilities are hyping hydrogen with methane as a solution — for what, bad health?

PSR’s new health report on hydrogen blending is out! Hydrogen blending is being pushed by the fossil fuel industry in many states, but it is a false solution.

Our report tells you why.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gas utilities are hyping a blend of hydrogen with methane (“natural” or “fracked”) gas to burn in our stoves and furnaces. It’s a bad idea:  dangerous in the home, bad for the climate.
  • Blending hydrogen with methane perpetuates our use of methane, which is a highly potent greenhouse gas: over 80 times more powerful a heat-trapper than carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere.
  • Did you know that roughly 99 percent of the hydrogen available today is actually produced from fossil fuels? Coal and – irony of ironies – methane. Using hydrogen means more drilling and mining and more fossil fuel pollution.
  • Blending hydrogen with methane also increases the risk of leaks and explosions.
  • Hydrogen also means more nitrogen dioxide emissions in our homes, since burning methane emits this harmful gas. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) damages the lungs:  It contributes to the development of asthma, can increase asthma symptoms, and increases susceptibility to respiratory infections.

“Hydrogen and methane for heating and cooking will deepen existing health inequities.”

Burning hydrogen in stoves is also an environmental justice issue. Low-income people and Black and Latino people suffer disproportionately from exposure to outdoor air pollution and are more likely to suffer from asthma than white people.

Using a polluting stove will raise their exposure to indoor air pollution, delivering a double whammy to their health. In other words, using hydrogen and methane for heating and cooking will perpetuate and deepen existing health inequities.

Adding high levels of hydrogen to the gas system would require all-new home appliances and pipeline replacements. Hydrogen blending would be expensive as well as dangerous.

There is plenty more in the report, available here.