Asthma Research Leads to Gas Cooking Controversy

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Paris (AFP) – Two recent studies blame cooking with gas for about 12% of childhood asthma cases in the US and Europe: provisional results are debated, especially for promoting gas, especially in developing countries.

The first study, published in December in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, estimates that 12.7% of childhood asthma cases in the US can be attributed to cooking gas, even as developing countries are encouraged to use the energy. an alternative to established harmful coal and wood.

“Using a gas stove is like having a smoker living in your house,” lead author Talor Gruenwald told AFP.

This Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) study is based on a meta-analysis of 41 previous studies, along with US census data, and echoes a 2018 Australian study that linked 12.3% of childhood asthma to these stoves.

Luckily for the calendar, similar results in Europe were announced on Monday by Clasp, Respire and the European Alliance for Public Health.

Nitrogen dioxide

The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has conducted laboratory tests and computer simulations and estimates that 12% of childhood asthma cases in the European Union are linked to this cooking method.

The report, commissioned by non-governmental organizations and not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, concluded that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) maximum limit of 25 micrograms/cubic days 5 days out of 7. meters outdoors. And this in most cases (cooking modes and duration, ventilation, type of housing, etc.).

According to WHO, high concentrations of NO2 in homes can cause various respiratory diseases, including asthma.

The Clasp association is conducting experiments in 280 European kitchens, including 40 in France, hoping to confirm these results. But for Tony Renucci, CEO of Respire, these numbers are already “shocking”.

Additional research

In the US, where about 35% of kitchens run on gas (30% in the EU), this issue has been hotly debated for several weeks.

Some, like the US gas lobby AGA, dismissed the results as “a pure mathematical exercise to promote a cause, with nothing scientifically new”.

But for Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who authored the study on methane pollution from gas furnaces (even when turned off, via leaks), they confirm “dozens of other studies that conclude that breathing indoor gas pollution can cause asthma.”

Daniel Pope, professor of public health at the University of Liverpool (UK), says he is extremely cautious. He believes that the link between asthma and gas stove pollution has not yet been conclusively proven and more research is needed.

Leading an ongoing study into the health effects of different fuels, he judges that gas cooking has “negligible effects on all aspects of health – including asthma, compared to electricity”.

For this professor, these publications should not destroy efforts to encourage people to abandon cooking with wood and charcoal, which will kill 3.2 million people a year due to indoor air pollution, mainly in developing countries.

A point joined by Brady Seals, director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Gas is certainly better than these other cooking methods,” but it’s “unhealthy” for all that.

The issue is being taken very seriously by US authorities: On Monday, Richard Trumka Jr., head of the Consumer Protection Agency, said new gas stoves are being reviewed.

“All options are on the table. Unsafe products can be banned,” Bloomberg said on Twitter, saying he was “not here to come and remove gas stoves from every American home.”

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