Does eating gas really cause asthma, as American studies claim?
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 United States can be attributed to cooking gas, while developing countries are encouraged to use this energy. an alternative to established harmful coal and wood. “Using a gas stove is like having a smoker living in your house,” said lead author Talor Gruenwald.
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. Coinciding with the calendar, similar results in Europe were announced on Monday by associations Clasp, Respire and the European Public Health Alliance.
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.
This NGO-commissioned report concludes that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) maximum outdoor limit of 25 micrograms/m3 5 days out of 7 days. And this in most cases (cooking modes and duration, ventilation, type of housing, etc.). According to the WHO, it 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”.
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 with nothing scientifically new”.
But for Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, author of the study on methane pollution from gas stoves, 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 says the link between asthma and gas stove pollution has yet to be conclusively proven.
For this professor, these publications should not destroy efforts to encourage the population to abandon cooking with wood and coal, which will kill 3.2 million people a year due to indoor air pollution. 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.
Gas stove ignites political debate
The issue is taken very seriously by the American authorities: on Monday, the head of the consumer protection authority, Richard Trumka Jr. at Bloomberg, said new gas stoves are being considered. He said that banning these types of furnaces cannot be ruled out due to the polluting substances emitted by them. “It’s a hidden danger,” he said, referring to the potential respiratory problems they can cause.
It was enough to spread rumors of an imminent ban on gas stoves and raise cries of outrage at officials and right-wing netizens.
According to conservative commentator Matt Walsh, some who opposed the attempt to trample on their freedoms presented themselves as evangelists of a well-cooked meal – “swallowing electric stoves”.
Like other netizens, Florida lawmaker Matt Gaetz proudly posted a video of his gas stove – about 35% of kitchens in the US run on gas. – You have to come and snatch it from me! “, he wrote.