Australian Study Finds Gas Stoves Increase Rate of Childhood Asthma

Gas cookbook

Perhaps having kids cooking with gas is not such a good idea after all.

The researchers found that 38.2 percent of Australian houses have natural gas stoves. Population Attributable Fractions (PAF) are the number of cases of a disease or condition that can be attributed to a particular source; Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) are the loss of a "healthy" year of life.

(PAFs) associated with gas stoves was 12.3% (95% CI, 8.9–15.8%), corresponding to 2756 DALYs (95% CI, 1271–4242), or 67 DALYs/100 000 children. If all homes with gas stoves were fitted with high efficiency range hoods to vent gas combustion products outdoors, the PAF and burden estimates were reduced to 3.4% (95% CI, 2.2–4.6%) and 761 DALYs (95% CI, 322–1199).

In other words, about 12 percent of asthma in Australian kids can be blamed on gas stoves, along with 67 healthy years lost for every 100,000 kids. If you have a properly designed, high efficiency hood, the danger from gas stoves drops by almost three-quarters.

This is a problem for several reasons. Firstly, cooking is a daily occurrence and cooking with gas is common in Australian homes. Secondly, cooking is normally done indoors, where irritants from gas cooking can accumulate, especially in winter as we keep our doors and windows locked. And lastly, it’s an issue that has had little coverage beyond academic circles, so most people are still unaware of the risks that cooking with gas may pose.

That is certainly true in North America too, where people love their gas stoves. The Asthma Council recommends getting a high efficiency exhaust hood and opening windows during and after cooking; "opening windows on opposite sides of the kitchen can help remove pollutants more quickly." That might work in Australia but good luck with that in a northern winter.

The inevitable conclusion is, yet again, that one really shouldn't have gas stoves. Or as Robert Lepage of RDH Building Science tweeted about this study:

It's time to get that induction range, and to reconsider that open kitchen design.