Two recent studies accuse cooking with gas of being responsible for around 12% of childhood asthma cases in the United States and Europe: provisional results that are debated, especially since gas is encouraged, particularly in the countries in development.
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, even as the developing countries are encouraged to use this energy as an alternative to coal and wood with established harmfulness.
“Using a gas stove is pretty much like having a smoker live 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, combined with US census data, and echoes 2018 Australian research, which attributed 12.3% of childhood asthma to these stoves.
Chance of the calendar, similar results in Europe were unveiled on Monday by the associations Clasp, Respire and the European Alliance for Public Health.
By conducting laboratory tests and computer simulations, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) estimates that 12% of childhood asthma cases in the European Union are also linked to this method of cooking.
This report, commissioned by NGOs and not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, concludes that levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceed 5 days out of 7 the maximum limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO ), i.e. 25 micrograms/cubic meter outdoors. And this in most cases (cooking modes and duration, ventilation, type of housing, etc.).
High concentrations of NO2 in homes can lead to various respiratory diseases, including asthma, according to the WHO.
The Clasp association is conducting an experiment in 280 European kitchens, including 40 in France, in the hope of confirming these results. But for Tony Renucci, executive director of Respire, these figures are already “a shock”.
In the US, where around 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, brushed off the results, calling them “a pure mathematical exercise in promoting a cause, with nothing scientifically new”.
But for Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, author of research on methane pollution from gas stoves (even when turned off, via leaks), they corroborate “dozens of other studies concluding that breathing indoor gas pollution can trigger asthma.
Daniel Pope, professor of public health at the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom) says he is extremely cautious. The link between asthma and pollution from gas stoves has not yet been definitively proven and more research is needed, he believes.
Himself conducting an ongoing study on the effects of different fuels on health, he judges that cooking with gas has “negligible effects compared to electricity for all aspects of health – including asthma”.
For this professor, these publications should not destroy the efforts to encourage populations to abandon cooking with wood and coal, which would be the cause of 3.2 million deaths per year due to domestic air pollution, mainly in developing countries.
A point on which converges Brady Seals, director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Gas is certainly better” than these other cooking methods, “but it is not healthy” for all that.
The issue is being taken very seriously by US authorities: On Monday, Consumer Safety Authority boss Richard Trumka Jr said a review into new gas cookers was underway.
“All options are on the table. Products whose safety is not guaranteed may be banned,” he told Bloomberg, while assuring on Twitter that he is “not here either to come and remove gas stoves from every American home.” .
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