"GAS STOVES AND RESPIRATORY HEALTH"1
A large, careful study2 in three English towns showed that cooking with gas stoves was associated with significantly more adverse respiratory problems in women, whereas for men, there was no association between respiratory health and a gas stove in the home. The probable explanation stems from the fact that women were doing most of the cooking and the polluting gasses, such as nitrogen dioxide, are far higher above the stove when the gas is burning than anywhere else in the home.
Fifteen thousand questionnaires about symptoms such as asthma and hay fever were sent out to randomly selected young adults, half men and half women. In order to reduce any bias because of differences between responders and non-responders, "samples of non-responders were followed up by home visits." A further random sample of those who answered the short questionnaire were invited for an interview with a long questionnaire and to provide blood samples and to take tests of their respiratory function. Approximately five hundred women and over four hundred men agreed to all the tests. In calculating the results, adjustments were made for many factors, including age group, smoking, town of residence, social class, and type of home. Considering men and women separately, striking differences were found in the association between respiratory symptoms and the use of gas for cooking.
were all significantly associated with the use of gas stoves. (For all these symptoms the probability was less than 25 chances in a thousand that this large a difference would occur by chance between users of gas stoves and those who did not.)
none of these symptoms was significantly associated with a gas stove in the home. For both men and women hay fever and nasal allergies were not significantly associated with the presence or absence of a gas stove in the home.
For women, "most symptoms were more common in smokers than in non-smokers." However, the association between cooking with gas stoves and respiratory symptoms "appeared strongest in non-smokers." Considering the expected value for respiratory function (FEV) in the particular population, "the use of a gas stove and open gas fire explained as much of the residual [extra] variation in FEV . . . in women as did adjustment for smoking."
"Although the issue of indoor gas appliances . . . and respiratory health is not new, this remains an extremely common, possibly increasing, exposure throughout the world. The stakes are high."
1Brauer, Michael, and Susan M. Kennedy, "Commentary: Gas stoves and respiratory health," The Lancet, 346: 412, February 17, 1996.
2Jarvis, D., S. Chinn, C. Luczynska, P. Burney, "Association of respiratory symptoms and lung function in young adults with the use of domestic gas appliances," The Lancet, 346: 426-31, February 17, 1996.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXI, No. 3, Summer 1996, page 5.