Researchers from Oregon State University have found that ventilation while cooking with a gas stove is essential, as the lack of it was linked to childhood asthma.
According to the researchers, though they can't say that gas stove use without ventilation causes respiratory issues, but the new study clearly showed an association between having asthma and use of ventilation.
The study showed that children who lived in homes where ventilation such as an exhaust fan was used when cooking with gas stoves were 32 percent less likely to have asthma than children who lived in homes where ventilation was not used. Children in homes where ventilation was used while cooking with a gas stove were 38 percent less likely to have bronchitis and 39 percent less likely to have wheezing. The study also showed that lung function, an important biological marker of asthma, was significantly better among girls from homes that used ventilation when operating their gas stove.
Many people in the study also reported using their gas stoves for heating, researchers found. That was also related to poorer respiratory health in children, particularly when ventilation was not used. In homes where the gas kitchen stove was used for heating, children were 44 percent less likely to have asthma and 43 percent less likely to have bronchitis if ventilation was used. The results did not change even when asthma risk factors such as pets or cigarette smoking inside the home were taken into account, said the authors.
Researchers used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1988-1994. Data collected for NHANES is a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population.
The third edition of the survey is the only one in which questions about use of gas stoves were asked, said co-author of the study, Eric Coker. Participants were interviewed in their homes and also underwent physical exams and lab tests.
Researchers examined data from about 7,300 children ages 2-16 who has asthma, wheezing or bronchitis and whose parents reported using a gas stove in the home. Of those who reported using no ventilation, 90 percent indicated they did not have an exhaust system or other ventilation in their homes, he added.
Even though the study relies on older data, the findings remain relevant because many people still use gas stoves for cooking, and in some cases, for heat in the winter, the researchers said.
Researchers suggest that future health surveys would include questions about gas stove and ventilation use. That would allow them to see if there have been any changes in ventilation use since the original data was collected.
The findings are published in the journal Environmental Health.