Children living in homes using gas stoves without proper ventilation are at a higher risk of asthma, according to a new study.
The study was conducted by researchers from Oregon State University. They noted that parents can reduce the risk of asthma, asthma symptoms and chronic bronchitis for their children by paying close attention to proper gas kitchen stove ventilation.
"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, in a press statement. "Parents of all children should use ventilation while using a gas stove."
Researchers noted that their study findings didn't confirm that gas stove use without ventilation causes respiratory issues but clearly identifies a strong association between the two. For the study, 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. This included information about more that 7,300 children aged between 2 and 16 years. All of them had either asthma, wheezing or bronchitis and their parents reported using a gas stove in the home.
They found 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.
Using gas stoves for heating is also a common practice in many homes. Researchers found that children living in such homes 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. "Reducing exposure to environmental factors that can exacerbate asthma can help improve the quality of life for people with this condition."
Strikingly, more than 90 percent of households that used gas stove didn't have an exhaust system or other ventilation in their homes. Researchers noted that even though they used older data for their study, the findings are still important because many households rely on gas stoves, even today.
"Lots of older homes lack exhaust or other ventilation," Coker said. "We know this is still a problem. We don't know if it is as prevalent as it was when the data was collected."
Findings of the study were published online in the journal "Environmental Health."