Childhood Asthma, Gas Stoves and Junk Science

Full Disclosure – I hate cooking on an electric stove. So there might be some bias in this post.

Here’s a link to the study behind the headlines – Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/20/1/75#B6-ijerph-20-00075.

Here’s a nice review of the study that most people will never read – No, new study does not link gas stoves with asthma in children https://junkscience.com/2023/01/no-new-study-does-not-link–stoves-with-asthma-in-children/

I read the study behind the headlines:

Indoor gas stove use for cooking is associated with an increased risk of current asthma among children…
The proportion of children (<18 years old) exposed to gas stoves was obtained from the American Housing Survey for the US, and states with available data (n = 9). We found that 12.7% (95% CI = 6.3–19.3%) of current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use. The proportion of childhood asthma that could be theoretically prevented if gas stove use was not present (e.g., state-specific PAFs) varied by state… Nonetheless, our results align with a cross-sectional study which found that the use of a gas stove or oven for heat was a main risk factor for doctor-diagnosed asthma in US children under age six [6].

Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States – link above

Note the authors went from “associated with” to “attributed to gas stove use”. When I got to the “main risk factor” statement I immediately went into WTF mode. So I decided to read some of the authors’ source documents including this one – Contribution of Residential Exposures to Asthma in US Children and Adolescents https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/107/6/e98/66289/Contribution-of-Residential-Exposures-to-Asthma-in?redirectedFrom=fulltext.

The list of predictors of doctor diagnosed asthma included history of pet allergy, presence of pet in the household, dust mites, fungus, diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and cockroaches. The main risk factor of gas stove use is not listed.

Talor Gruenwald is listed as the lead author of the study causing an uproar from professional chefs in the US. Gruenwald used to work here https://rmi.org/ and now works here https://www.rewiringamerica.org

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.

George Orwell – 1984

This was an interesting deep dive behind the headlines.

Did I mention I hate cooking on an electric stove?

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