A study aims to quantify the burden of current childhood asthma in the United States in association with smoke from indoor gas stoves.
A study aimed to quantify the burden of current childhood asthma in the United States in association with smoke from indoor gas stoves.
In light of recent growing public concerns over the safety of indoor gas stoves used for cooking that seems to have become a media frenzy, this study found that only 12% of current childhood asthma is attributed to smoke from gas stoves, which is about the same percentage for childhood asthma attributed to second-hand smoke.
Gas stoves, the subject of research regarding a role in climate and health effects, was the topic of an interview earlier this month with a federal official who suggested they may need to be regulated In turn, gas stoves quickly became a “fodder for partisan influencers and campaign merchandise,” noted NPR.
In the current population-based study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers said they quantified gas stove use and current childhood asthma at a national and state level, which had never been done before.
The researchers used a population attributable fraction (PAF) model, an epidemiologic measure used to examine the public health impact of exposures in populations.
They reviewed previously published studies to update effect-size estimates; out of 357 studies published since January 4, 2013, 27 full manuscripts related to gas cooking and children were included in the analysis. None reported new links between gas stove use and childhood asthma specifically in North America or Europe.
Researchers then used the previous effect sizes in these past analyses for the current study (odds ratio [OR] = 1.34; 95% CI = 1.12–1.57).
Additionally, the researchers estimated the proportion of children aged 18 and older exposed to gas stove smoke in the United States and certain states using the 2019 American Housing Survey (AHS).
The study found that 12.7% (95% CI, 6.3%-19.3%) of current childhood asthma is attributable to gas stove use. 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 experienced about a 10% burden. In contrast, Florida experienced the lowest burden (3%).
State-level PAFs varied due to various levels of exposure to gas stoves among children. For example, in Illinois, approximately 79.1% of households with children cook with gas, whereas in Florida, that percentage is only 9%. Furthermore, states with a higher percentage of children living in households with gas stoves had a higher proportion of current childhood asthma attributable to gas stove use.
Two interventions proposed by the researchers are replacing gas cooking with alternative, cleaner methods, such as electric cooking, and reducing exposure using a ventilation source, such as a range hood, although high-efficiency range hoods are not practical in all households, such as apartments.
Study strengths include using peer-reviewed effect sizes and existing PAF models.
Despite a growing gas stove public health concern, this study suggests that gas stove smoke makes up a small percentage of asthma cases in children, and interventions to curb these cases should be considered as part of a much larger asthma prevention strategy.
“Further research is needed to quantify the burden experienced at the county levels, as well as the impacts of implementing mitigation strategies through intervention studies,” wrote the researchers.
Gruenwald T, Seals BA, Knibbs LD, Hosgood HD. Population attributable fraction of gas stoves and childhood asthma in the United States. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;20(1):75. doi:10.3390/ijerph20010075
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