50,000 childhood asthma incidents related to gas and propane stoves

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By Creative Media News

  • Gas and propane furnaces linked to childhood asthma, raising concerns
  • Study estimates 50,000 asthma cases annually due to NO2 exposure
  • Debate ensues over proposed bans, with critics questioning study validity

Tens of thousands of cases of childhood asthma may have been caused by gas and propane furnaces, according to one study.  

After measuring nitrogen dioxide levels in over a hundred kitchens in the United States with stoves on, researchers from California and Boston determined how the chemical dispersed to other rooms when the appliances were turned off.  

By combining the data with Energy Information Administration statistics on the frequency of stove use, the team was able to estimate the annual amount of exposure that individuals are exposed to.  

They determined that gas and propane furnaces contributed to an annual nitrogen dioxide exposure of 4 parts per billion, which they attributed to approximately 50,000 cases of childhood asthma.  

Concerned about asthma and climate damage, officials have considered banning the appliance. However, numerous scientists have questioned the validity of the research techniques utilized in the studies. 

Frequent short-term NO2 exposure from the use of a standard gas stove surpasses both World Health Organization and U.S. standards. “Benchmarks established by the Environmental Protection Agency,” the researchers wrote. 

This is because individuals residing in areas less than 800 square feet were exposed to concentrations as high as 7.5 parts per billion, which is significantly higher than the annual limit of 5.3 parts per billion set by the World Health Organization for both indoor and outdoor exposure.   

Nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant composed of nitrogen and oxygen that is produced by the high-temperature combustion of fossil fuels such as methane gas, coal, and oil.   

As per the findings of the American Lung Association, nitrogen dioxide has been associated with asthma attacks, sneezing, wheezing, and increased inflammation in the airways. 

The following cities’ residential addresses were surveyed: Bakersfield, California; San Francisco, California; Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas; New York, New York; and Washington, D.C.  

The group considered potential outcomes such as open or closed apertures, low or high burner settings, and on or off-range hoods.   

Furthermore, the research group discovered that individuals residing in dwellings under 800 square feet were exposed to nitrogen dioxide at a rate four times that of those residing in dwellings exceeding 3,000 square feet.

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Additionally, the team highlighted racial disparities. Black and Hispanic households had 20 percent greater long-term exposure than the study’s mean, while American Indian and Alaska Native households had 60 percent more.  

Additionally, the poor were at a greater risk.  

Dr. Rob Jackson, co-author of the study and a Stanford University professor of Earth science, stated, “We discovered that impoverished individuals inhale dirtier air both indoors and outdoors, and if they have a gas stove, even inside.” 

“People who reside in public housing and frequently rent in poorer neighborhoods are unable to replace their appliances due to a lack of ownership or financial constraints.”  

However, the research was limited by its reliance on self-reported behavioral data, such as inquiries regarding the degree to which participants increased the heat on their stoves, and it failed to consider individual health conditions.   

Gas and propane stove exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of childhood asthma, according to previous research. For instance, according to a report from 2022, the use of such appliances raised the risk of asthma in children by thirteen percent.  

Additionally, researchers from Indiana University and Purdue University discovered that cooking on a gas range exposed individuals to more hazardous nanoparticles than inhaling exhaust fumes from automobiles.  

New York was the first state to advocate for prohibitions on gas appliances a year ago.  

However, other researchers and health authorities have criticized studies that link these appliances to asthma on the grounds of flawed methodology and the absence of concrete evidence.  

The American Gas Association, which represents energy companies that transport natural gas, cast doubt on previous studies cited by the authors of the current study. 

It cited a February study that concluded that cooking with gas increased the risk of asthma in children by a small amount, but the difference was not statistically significant. As a consequence, the agency deemed the findings to be “misleading and unsupported.”

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