In the driveway of a Melbourne home, a team of American scientists huddles around the boot of an electric car, peering at a line of machines inside. 

They are monitoring pollution levels from the home's unventilated kitchen, where a gas stove is switched on.

One machine shows the level of nitrogen dioxide — a respiratory irritant linked to asthma — in the air, and it's rapidly climbing. 

Within 30 minutes, the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the unventilated kitchen has soared about five times higher than the Australian outdoor air quality standard.

"It looks like it's now 495 parts per billion (ppb)," says Eric Lebel, a research scientist specialising in energy.

The scientists are taking samples inside Australian kitchens to measure the air pollutants emitted by gas stoves, according to Dr Lebel.

It's part of the new Kitchen Pollutants Study, a collaboration between Stanford University in the United States, The University of Melbourne, and the American non-profit group PSE Healthy Energy.

"A lot of the research is showing that gas is not as clean as we thought," he said.

"It's not clean for the climate and it's not clean for your health."

Eric Lebel taking samples of gas from a stove.
Research scientist Eric Lebel (left) will test samples of unburned gas straight from Australian stoves.(ABC News: Leonie Thorne)

Australia does not have indoor air quality standards, but it does have outdoor ones.

According to the National Environment Protection Measure, the maximum concentration standard for NO2 for one hour is 80ppb.

Stanford University's previous research in the US found gas stoves there could emit the greenhouse gas methane, even when they were not switched on.

In Australia, the team's work aims to build on that knowledge and to learn more about the health and environmental impacts of natural gas stoves here.

"[We're] trying to understand if we find the same things down here as we did in the United States," said Dr Lebel, a scientist with PSE Healthy Energy, who was part of the Stanford University team during last year's research.

"[Our aim is] to better understand — and let people make informed decisions about — what they'd like to do about the gas appliances in their home."

Brigid stands in front of her gas stove while a pot of water is boiling away.
Brigid Lynch signed up to the study to find out more about the possible effects of the gas stove in her rental home.(ABC News: Leonie Thorne)

The resident of the Melbourne home — and host to one of the American experiments — is Brigid Lynch, a cancer epidemiologist and mother of two.

She was interested in taking part in the study from both a professional and a personal point of view.

"I'm quite curious to know just exactly what we're breathing in when we are cooking," she said.

Gas stove caused rise in irritants even in bedroom

The researchers took air quality samples while the gas cooker was on in three different scenarios: in the kitchen with doors and windows closed; in the kitchen with doors open; and in the bedroom, on the other side of the house.

Those tests were run while boiling a large pot of water, to reduce interference from other compounds that get released when cooking food.

Nitrogen dioxide levels during the first experiment, while the kitchen had no ventilation, peaked at just over 500ppb.

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