A study aimed to quantify the current burden of childhood asthma in the United States associated with smoke from indoor gas stoves.
In light of the recent growing public concern about the safety of indoor gas ranges used for cooking that appears to have become a media frenzy, this study found that only 12% of current childhood asthma is attributable to smoke from ranges of gas, which is about the same rate for childhood asthma attributed to secondhand smoke.
Gas stoves, the subject of research into their role in climate and health effects, were the subject of an interview earlier this month with a federal official who suggested they may need to be regulated. and campaign merchandise,” NPR noted.
In the current population-based study, published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, The researchers said they quantified gas stove use and current childhood asthma at the national and state levels, which had never been done before.
The researchers used a population attributable fraction (PAF) model, an epidemiological measure used to examine the public health impact of exposure on populations.
They reviewed previously published studies to inform effect size estimates. of 357 studies published as of 4 January 2013, 27 full manuscripts related to gas cooking and children were included in the analysis. None reported new associations between gas stove use and childhood asthma specifically in North America or Europe.
The researchers then used the previous effect sizes in these previous analyzes for the current study (odds ratio [OR] = 1.34; 95% CI = 1.12–1.57).
In addition, the researchers estimated the percentage of children aged 18 and older who were exposed to gas stove smoke in the United States and in some states using the 2019 American Housing Survey (AHS).
The study found that 12.7% (95% CI, 6.3%-19.3%) of current childhood asthma was attributable to the use of gas stoves. At the state level, Illinois experienced the highest burden (21.1%), followed by California (20.1%), New York (18.8%), Massachusetts (15.4%), and Pennsylvania ( 13.5%). Texas, Colorado, and Ohio had about a 10% burden. In contrast, Florida had the lowest burden (3%).
PAFs at the state level differed due to varying levels of exposure to gas stoves among children. For example, in Illinois, about 79.1% of households with children cook with natural gas, while in Florida, that figure is only 9%. Additionally, states with a higher percentage of children living in households with gas stoves had a higher rate of current childhood asthma attributable to gas stove use.
Two interventions suggested by the researchers are replacing gas cooking with alternative, cleaner methods, such as electric cooking, and reducing exposure by using a ventilation source such as a range hood, although high-efficiency range hoods are not practical in all areas. households, such as apartments.
Study strengths include the use of peer-reviewed effect sizes and existing PAF models.
Despite growing public health concern over gas stoves, this study suggests that gas stove smoke accounts for a small proportion of asthma cases in children, and interventions to reduce these cases should be considered part of a much larger prevention strategy. of asthma.
“Further research is needed to quantify the burden experienced at the county level, as well as the effects of implementing mitigation strategies through intervention studies,” the researchers wrote.
Gruenwald T, Seals BA, Knibbs LD, Hosgood HD. Population fraction of gas foci and childhood asthma in the United States. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022? 20 (1): 75. doi:10.3390/ijerph20010075