Study Links Childhood Asthma to Lack of Ventilation for Gas Stoves

First Posted: Sep 30, 2014 08:02 AM EDT

A recent study highlights a significant link between gas kitchen stove ventilation and increased risk of asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult for millions of Americans. This lifelong disease causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. This lung disease limits a person's quality of life.

In a latest study, researchers at the Oregon State University suggest that households using gas stoves for cooking purposes should have proper ventilation otherwise it puts children at a higher risk of asthma, asthma symptoms and chronic bronchitis.

"In homes where a gas stove was used without venting, the prevalence of asthma and wheezing is higher than in homes where a gas stove was used with ventilation," said Ellen Smit, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study's authors. "Parents of all children should use ventilation while using a gas stove."

Though it's not clear whether the gas stove use without ventilation causes respiratory issues, but this new study highlights the link between having asthma and use of ventilation. Further research is needed to know this association, including whether emission from gas stove trigger or exacerbate asthma in children.

It is estimated that nearly 48 percent of American homes use gas stoves and this affects the indoor air pollution levels.

The researchers used data from 7,300 children of ages 2-16 who had asthma, wheezing or bronchitis and whose parents used gas stoves at home. Nearly 90 percent of them did not use an exhaust system or other ventilation at home.

They showed that those who resided in homes where ventilation like exhaust fan was used when cooking with gas stoves, the children were 32 percent less likely to develop asthma compared to those living in homes where ventilation was not used. Also with proper ventilation facility, the children were 38 percent less likely to suffer from bronchitis and 39 percent less likely to suffer from wheezing.

They also observed that the lung function was much better among girls who lived in homes using gas stoves and with good ventilation system. Homes that used gas kitchen stove for heating, were 44 percent less likely to have asthma and 43 percent less likely to have bronchitis if ventilation was used.

"Asthma is one of the most common diseases in children living in the United States," said Molly Kile, the study's lead author. Kile is an environmental epidemiologist and assistant professor at OSU. "Reducing exposure to environmental factors that can exacerbate asthma can help improve the quality of life for people with this condition."

The finding was documented in Environmental Health. 

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