According to a new report, gas stoves are responsible for increasing indoor air pollution and are linked to a higher risk of asthma in children. Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute and multiple environmental groups have studied the effects of gas stoves. They found that nitrogen dioxide, a byproduct of fuel combustion, causes lung damage. These emissions are more concentrated when people cook in enclosed spaces, such as a kitchen. Their findings have implications for both children and adults.
Two studies examined the connection between children’s exposure to NO2 and the development of asthma. In one study, the researchers measured the concentration of NO2 from gas stoves in children living in inner-city areas with high proportions of African American and low-income families. They found that gas stoves were the greatest contributor to indoor air pollution.
Another study found that children living in households with gas stoves were 42% more likely to develop asthma. This was comparable to the risk of asthma in children living in households with smokers. Although most parents would not expose their children to secondhand smoke, these figures are still troubling. In addition to this, gas stoves release contaminants like nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter into the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms in children.
Asthma Australia CEO Michelle Goldman believes that many people are unaware of the risks of gas stoves. The state of Victoria is the leading natural gas-burner in Australia, with 65 per cent of residential gas use. Most of the natural gas used in homes in Victoria is for heating, while only two percent is used for cooking.
A recent study by Chapman and colleagues found that the use of gas stoves was associated with a lower lung function in girls compared to the use of electric stoves. However, this association was limited to girls who were not on prescribed asthma medication. In other words, it is not clear whether gas stoves are causing the asthma epidemic in children.