Today, we have a guest blog post shared here with permission from Dogwood on behalf of Ashley. Fraser Valley Climate Action has been cooperating with Ashley and Dogwood’s campaign to raise awareness around the harms of burning fracked methane in BC homes. Please read Ashley’s story below.

“The day my daughter accidentally left our gas stove on still haunts me. It was the final straw that pushed our family to switch to a safe and efficient electric induction cooktop.

I remember I was reading something, so engrossed that I didn’t notice the smell at first. Then suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the nauseating and frighteningly familiar smell of rotten eggs.

Years of living in the Peace country where hydrogen sulfide (H2S) leaks from fracking wells or gas plants kick-started my sense of emergency. I ran to the kitchen where I saw the gas stovetop was on with no flame.

At this point, the air was so thick with gas I could barely breathe. In that moment I made what could have been a fatal mistake — I rushed to the stove to turn it off as fast as I could, forgetting the stove had an igniter that created sparks when the knob was turned in either direction – on or off.

Turning that knob could have blown up our kitchen.

But by some miracle, there was no spark and the extremely flammable methane gas cloud in my kitchen did not ignite.

I should have known better. I’ve known for years that (un)natural fracked gas is dangerous. But I panicked. All I could think about was turning it off and throwing open the doors so we could breathe again. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have opened the doors first, then addressed the leak.

Why do we have gas appliances in our homes that not only cause explosions, but leak toxic fumes into our living space 24/7?

This happened the year before I started working for Dogwood when I was only just beginning to get a sense of how bad gas stoves are for our health. But it makes perfect sense that the same gas we extract outdoors that sickens communities would pollute our air inside, too.

Fracked gas is toxic to all of us, whether it’s poisoning a farmer’s well or poisoning our children in our very own kitchens. It’s literally the same stuff.

It’s shocking how little information we’re given on the health harms of such a popular appliance. In fact, FortisBC and the fracked gas industry actively market “natural” gas as safe and claim it’s a “low carbon” “climate solution”. This could not be further from the truth.

“Natural gas” is methane – and unburned methane warms up our planet 84 times faster than carbon dioxide. It’s a major greenhouse gas and it’s accelerating the climate crisis.

While the fossil gas industry claims fracked gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels, it still emits carbon dioxide when burned (along with asthma causing nitrogen dioxide). In fact, 11 per cent of B.C.’s total carbon emissions come from burning “natural gas” in our homes, and that number goes up to 40 per cent in cities.

Those numbers do not even account for all of the fugitive methane emissions that come from extracting/fracking, producing, refining, transporting, and using that fracked gas for heating and cooking.

While more than 90 per cent of the gas in our homes is made up of methane, a huge number of other carcinogens and pollutants can be found in the stuff.

The most alarming of which is benzene, a chemical not safe to inhale or ingest in ANY amount.

That’s why communities near fracking rigs have such high rates of cancer, and it’s why that leak in my home still haunts me as I think about how much of it my kids breathed in that day.

A recent study shows that Vancouver (and presumably surrounding areas in B.C.) has 50 times more benzene in our fracked gas than 17 other major North American cities tested. That’s an astounding number! And it makes me sick to think that my kids were exposed to it.

While I was fortunate to get rid of my gas stove last Christmas, it wasn’t easy. It can be cost prohibitive to make the switch to clean energy appliances such as heat pumps or induction stovetops. It shouldn’t be so hard to make our homes safe for our families.

The B.C. government has the power to keep people safe from toxic gas in their homes by ensuring that all new buildings come equipped with electric heat pumps and stovetops, because it’s their job to make sure homes are built safe in the first place.

Our homes should be protected against chemicals like benzene. And you can help. Sign the petition and join our movement for Safer Homes in B.C.

Ashley Zarbatany, Dogwood

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