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'I would choose electric,' Dayton lung doctor says about gas stoves

Gas stove flame
Ivan Radic
Wikimedia Commons
Gas stove flame

Gas stoves have been in the news this year.

It comes after a Biden appointed Consumer Product Safety Commission official said that a ban on gas stoves was a real possibility. Local Republican congressman Jim Jordan tweeted “God. Guns. Gas Stoves.”

Calls to ban the manufacturing of new gas stoves are because of the effect some scientists say they have on indoor air quality. A recent peer-reviewed study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that the state of Ohio could avoid nearly 10% of childhood asthma cases if gas stoves were not present in homes.

WYSO sent that study to local childhood asthma expert Dayton Children’s pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Daniel Evans. Below is a transcript of Dr. Evans’ conversation with WYSO Environmental Reporter Chris Welter.

Note: WYSO did reach out to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association for comment but did not hear back by publication.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity)

Dr. Daniel Evans: Gas cooktops may be contributing to the development of asthma. Now, what the study did say, though, is that they have to be careful. You can't just take one thing and say “this is it.” Asthma is a multivariate disease and multiple issues are related to the triggers of it and the development of it. Even the authors of the article talk about needing to do some mitigation studies because you want to be able to make sure that you are identifying specific triggers.

Chris Welter: So as a medical professional, after reading a study like this, are you going to change the way that you interact with your patients and their caregivers? You said that there's still more research that needs to be done, but when you're dealing with someone who has moderate to severe childhood asthma, is a question that you'll ask be: 'Do you have a gas stove in your home?'

Dr. Evans: I think that's a great point. I think that's one of those things that we need to think about and address, especially in those patients who are having lots of flare ups. What are those triggers? We often ask about secondhand smoke exposure, and so we always talk with families about trying to quit smoking and trying to not have children in a smoking environment. This study’s data starts to suggest that nitrogen dioxide as a byproduct of the combustion of gas cooktops may be on that same level of an irritant as the second hand smoking is causing.

So data like that is going to start encouraging us to say to patients, 'Hey, maybe there is another trigger in the home.' Maybe they're not smokers, but they have a gas cooktop and they're having difficulty controlling asthma. Maybe we need to think about if can they change their appliances out?

There are also abilities to measure indoor air quality. So we're starting to look at a little research project with a company looking at measuring indoor air quality and trying to do some mitigation. Maybe there will be the ability to get some of these things in the home to say, 'Hey, you can measure your indoor air quality and analyze it.' So we can answer questions like: 'What am I having problems with in my home? Is it nitrogen dioxide? Is my nitrogen dioxide level too high? What are the sources that I can get rid of? Is it something else? Is it the particulate matter? Is it endotoxins?'

There's a number of things that contribute to indoor air quality. But, maybe we're going to get smarter and identify these things on a deeper level to be able to be specific about what we need to mitigate.

Chris: Asking it to you plainly: would you recommend having a gas stove in the home?

Dr. Evans: I think based on the data, if they were asking what would be my opinion with electric versus gas, I would say that I would choose electric.

If I can do anything that can help minimize my child's exposure to something that's going to potentially complicate their existing disease or contribute to them developing something down the road, my opinion is to recommend leaning toward the electric cooktops as opposed to the gas cooktops.

Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.
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