Asthma and Gas Stoves

Gas Stove Emissions Worsen Asthma Symptoms

According to published reports bu the U.S. National Institute of Health, Johns Hopkins University scientists supported by NIEHS report that high levels of nitrogen dioxide gas from cooking and heating stoves in indoor environments aggravate asthma symptoms in inner-city children, especially pre-school aged children. Nitrogen dioxide gas is most prevalent in industrial settings, but it also found at high levels in many poor, inner-city homes that have unvented gas stoves. In a recent report published in Environmental Health Perspectives the Hopkins researchers report that asthma exacerbations were directly related to high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the inner-city homes they studied.

The research team compared the nitrogen dioxide levels in the homes of 150 inner-city Baltimore children aged 2-6 to the frequency and intensity of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Each 20-point increase in nitrogen dioxide levels led to 10 percent more days of coughing and 15 percent more days of limited speech due to wheezing. Eighty-three percent of the homes had gas cooking stoves and 72 percent were heated with natural gas. Forty-two percent of the households had annual incomes less than $25,000.

Asthma is the most common pediatric chronic disease affecting 6.2 million children in the United States alone. It is widely known that severe asthma is most prevalent in the inner-city environment. This is due in part to poor access to health care and environmental conditions such as the disproportionate exposure to indoor allergens, dust, cigarette smoke, and automobile exhaust. The authors conclude that physicians caring for children with asthma should ask about their home’s heating and cooking appliances and recommend using alternatives if possible or at least encourage the parents to have the stoves properly vented.

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