That gas stove you cook on may cause asthma in your kids, a study shows

A coffee pot is visible above a gas stove with a blue flame in the kitchen

Painting by Davide Bonaldo/SOPA

  • The study found that approximately 650,000 children in the United States are likely to have asthma due to gas stoves.

  • Furnaces emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which increase the risk of damage to the respiratory tract.

  • Climate advocates point to a study that will help justify the phasing out of fossil fuels.

Most parents know that secondhand smoke can lead to asthma in children. It may come as a surprise that cooking on a gas stove carries similar risks.

That’s according to a study published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that attributes 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the US to air pollution from gas cookers.

Burning gas releases pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde that increase the risk of respiratory damage.

“It’s preventable,” Brady Seals, manager of the Carbon-Free Buildings program at think tank RMI and co-author of the study, told Insider. “We hope this study can raise awareness and provide policy makers with the data they need to act on this issue.”

The results build on an analysis of previous studies that estimated that children living in homes with gas stoves were 34% more likely to develop asthma. This risk factor, combined with 2019 data showing that more than a third of American households cooked primarily on gas, indicates that approximately 650,000 children are likely to have had asthma due to gas stoves.

Seals, whose employer advocates the electrification of buildings, says there has been research for decades into the correlation between gas stoves and childhood asthma, but it has been hushed up or shelved. Now some climate advocates are putting the pieces together to bolster the case for phasing out fossil fuels in buildings, which account for about 13% of US greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“That saying, ‘If it’s bad for the climate, it’s probably bad for your health,’ prompted us to start researching this about three years ago,” Seals said.

RMI and Rewiring America, another electrification group that helped produce the study, are advocating building codes that prohibit gas hookups in new construction. Dozens of cities, mostly in California, have the policy as of 2019.

The momentum was met with a campaign of opposition from the gas industry and their allies in state legislatures. At least 20 mostly red states have passed laws that prohibit local governments from restricting fossil fuels in buildings.

The American Gas Association, a trade group representing the natural gas industry, in a statement criticized the methodology underlying the pediatric asthma research, in part because the researchers used estimated health risks and did not conduct their own measurements of device use, emissions or exposures.

The gas industry also often points out that proper ventilation significantly reduces the concentration of pollutants from gas cookers.

While that’s true, Seals said many states and cities don’t require gas stoves to be vented to the outside – unlike appliances like stoves and water heaters. Extractor hoods and fans do not guarantee air purification, and people cannot always use them.

Seals added that federal agencies should increase oversight. The EPA does not regulate indoor air quality, but it can issue non-binding guidelines to help influence state and local officials to update building codes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission could also regulate pollution from gas cookers or require warning labels, Seals said.

The commission’s head, Richard Trumka Jr., in December indicated the agency was moving in that direction and said a total ban on new gas stoves was a “real possibility,” reports The Hill. That same month, Democrats in Congress asked the agency to take steps to protect people from the threats.

Read the original article in Business Insider

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