Gas stoves gave asthma to 650,000 American children, study finds

A person cooks on a gas stove while holding a child. (Getty Images)

Gas stoves are responsible for 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the United States, a new study in the peer-reviewed. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health he found This proportion is much higher in states like Illinois (21.1%), California (20.1%) and New York (18.8%), where gas stoves are more prevalent.

“When the gas stove is on, and when it burns at that hot temperature, it releases a number of pollutants into the air,” Brady Seals, a co-author of the study and the manager of carbon-free buildings at the energy policy think tank . RMI, told Yahoo News. “So there are things like particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, among others. So, for example, nitrogen dioxide is a known respiratory irritant. And the EPA, in 2016, said that the “short-term exposure to NO2 causes respiratory effects such as asthma attacks”.

The study is based on a meta-analysis from 2013 on the correlation between gas stove and childhood asthma, which found that living in a house with a gas stove corresponds to a 42% higher probability of current childhood asthma. Combining that with data on the prevalence of gas stoves, which are present in 35% of US homes, researchers have estimated how many more cases of childhood asthma exist because of their presence. As a result, researchers found that 650,000 American children have asthma because of gas stoves in their homes.

A person uses an asthma inhaler.

A person uses an asthma inhaler. (Getty Images)

The new study follows other research showing that gas stoves are harmful to indoor air quality. In 2020, UCLA public health researchers commissioned by the Sierra Club found that 90% of homes have unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide contamination after cooking with gas for an hour. A 2020 study by RMI found that homes with gas stoves 50% to over 400% higher nitrogen dioxide concentrations than homes with electric stoves. When burned, the gas also emits harmful substances, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.

In addition to the indoor air pollution in question in this study, the use of gas in the home also contributes to outdoor air pollution, another primary driver of asthma. The same toxins that damage children’s lungs while indoors contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, also known as smog, which is toxic. In 2019, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that ozone is responsible for 11% of deaths from chronic respiratory diseases. And natural gas is mostly methane, which is also an ingredient in the formation of smog.

Methane is also a very powerful greenhouse gas 11% of global warming emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Global warming also worsens air pollution, as warmer weather contributes to the formation of smog.

A pot on a gas stove.  (Getty Images)

A pot on a gas stove. (Getty Images)

Increasingly, cities seeking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions are banning the installation of gas appliances in new construction. Liberal strongholds like Berkeley, California, San Francisco, Seattle and New York City have adopted such measures.

Researchers have also discovered that ovens and gas stoves can pollute indoor air when they are not even in use. A January 2021 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that the gas furnaces and ovens often leakand estimated that in the United States its leaked methane emissions are equivalent to the carbon emissions of half a million cars.

The UCLA study estimated that in California alone, if all residential gas appliances were transitioned to clean energy electrical appliances, the reduction in particulate pollution and nitrogen oxides would result in 354 fewer annual deaths and an even greater reduction in bronchitis.

Researchers in the most recent study recommend two approaches to reduce indoor pollution from gas stoves: either improve ventilation or replace with clean alternatives such as electric stoves. They lean heavily towards the latter.

An electric ceramic in a kitchen.

An electric ceramic in a kitchen. (Getty Images)

“Notably, ventilation is associated with reduction, but not elimination, of the risk of childhood asthma,” they write.

Even many stoves with hoods, they note, do not vent outside – which defeats the purpose – and people often forget to turn on their vents.

Last month, eight senators and 12 members of the House of Representatives, all Democrats, signed a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action to protect consumers from gas stove pollution. The letter did not call for the ban of gas stoves, but instead asking for a regulation to require ventilation and performance standards to limit leakage. CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. he said in a subsequent webinar that a gas stove ban would be a “real possibility”.

Following publication, the American Gas Association provided Yahoo News with an email response from AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert.

“The claims made in [the study] are derived from a defense-based mathematical exercise that does not add new science,” the statement reads, in part. “The authors did not perform measurements or tests based on the use of the devices in real life, emission rates, or exposures, and they did. it does not properly consider other factors that are known to contribute to asthma and other respiratory health outcomes. The authors chose an estimated health risk, but if this value is wrong or biased, then the results of the paper will also be wrong or biased.

Leave a Comment