BACKGROUND: Gas stoves emit pollutants that are respiratory irritants. U.S. children under age 6 who live in homes where gas stoves are used for cooking or heating have an increased risk of asthma, wheeze and reduced lung function. Yet few studies have examined whether using ventilation when operating gas stoves is associated with a decrease in the prevalence of respiratory illnesses in this population.
METHODS: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was used to identify U.S. children aged 2-16 years with information on respiratory outcomes (asthma, wheeze, and bronchitis) who lived in homes where gas stoves were used in the previous 12 months and whose parents provided information on ventilation. Logistic regression models evaluated the association between prevalent respiratory outcomes and ventilation in homes that used gas stoves for cooking and/or heating. Linear regression models assessed the association between spirometry measurements and ventilation use in children aged 8-16 years.
RESULTS: The adjusted odds of asthma (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.64; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.43, 0.97), wheeze (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.42, 0.86), and bronchitis (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.37, 0.95) were lower among children whose parents reported using ventilation compared to children whose parents reported not using ventilation when operating gas stoves. One-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and FEV1/FVC ratio was also higher in girls who lived in households that used gas stoves with ventilation compared to households that used gas stoves without ventilation.
CONCLUSIONS: In homes that used gas stoves, children whose parents reported using ventilation when operating their stove had higher lung function and lower odds of asthma, wheeze, and bronchitis compared to homes that never used ventilation or did not have ventilation available after adjusting for other risk factors. Additional research on the efficacy of ventilation as an intervention for ameliorating respiratory symptoms in children with asthma is warranted.