Should You Worry About Gas Stoves?
As a decent home cook, I love my gas stove. I have previously had electric burners, and while the better induction cooktops are pretty great, there’s nothing quite like a gas burner to really give you a feeling of immediate control over the temperature of your food.
So I was a bit distressed to see the news that, apparently, gas stoves are causing enormous health harms across the world. Headlines have abounded claiming that 12.7% of child asthma is caused by gas cooktops, and that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering regulating gas stoves due to the public health risks.
This all sounds very scary. Many of us have had gas stoves in our home for a large portion of our lives, and it’s worrying to think that such a simple thing could be causing us great harm. Even worse, most of these headlines are about gas stoves making children sick, which is even more stressful for people who are cooking their spaghetti on open flames.
However, the science isn’t quite as settled as you may have heard. There’s certainly some evidence that gas stoves may be bad for our health, but there’s also quite a bit of complexity in that assessment.
Let’s look at the evidence.
Most of the current furore about gas stoves has come from a study which estimated what’s known as the Population Attributable Fraction of childhood asthma associated with gas stoves. This paper is the source of all of those headlines about “1 in 8 cases of asthma caused by gas cooking” that you might’ve seen floating around.
The calculation in this paper sounds complicated, but it’s actually really simple — the authors essentially take the increased risk of asthma associated with gas stoves as well as the proportion of the population that uses them and, using prior research, estimate what…