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Beware the Effects of Gas Stoves on Childhood Asthma

By Natasha Tracy  •   March 6, 2023
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Apr 17, 2023

Photo Credit: by Gary Barnes, Pexels.com
Photo Credit: by Gary Barnes, Pexels.com

Gas stoves have been in-use for hundreds of years and many people are under the impression that gas stoves burn very cleanly and efficiently and thus, they haven’t even considered that they may impact a person’s health. However, having a gas-burning stove in your house is just having an additional source of air pollution. And while pollution is bad for everyone, it’s particularly bad for children. Not only is air pollution inherently dangerous in that it can irritate airways and exacerbate respiratory problems, but it can also actually cause asthma in children. And this raises many questions. How do you mitigate the risks to children from gas stoves? Should you change to an electric stove? Should we go so far as to ban gas stoves to protect young lungs?

What Causes Childhood Asthma?

Many factors are known to increase the risk of childhood asthma, although the exact causes are not fully understood. According to the Mayo Clinic, some factors thought to be involved include Inherited tendency to develop allergies, parents with asthma, some types of airway infections at a very young age, and exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or other air pollution.

Additionally, increased immune system sensitivity causes the lungs and airways to swell and produce mucus when exposed to certain triggers. This produces asthma symptoms. Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, triggers of those symptoms include:

• Viral infections such as the common cold

• Exposure to air pollutants, such as tobacco smoke

• Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen, or mold

• Physical activity

• Weather changes or cold air

As noted above, air pollution is linked to asthma both as a risk factor and as a trigger. Gas stoves are, indeed, a source of air pollution in the home.

If a person does have asthma, it may have to be managed with medications. The Flovent Inhaler (fluticasone) is one option for management and Trelegy Ellipta(fluticasone/umeclidinium/vilanterol) is another. Remember, only medical professionals can diagnose and treat asthma. For information on the above medications, talk to your doctor.

What Do Gas Stoves Emit?

As mentioned, some are under the impression that “gas stoves burn cleanly.” Unfortunately, this opinion might mostly be created by oil and gas industry advertising and not the facts themselves. The facts indicate that gas stoves are actually a source of dangerous pollution in the home.

When you use your gas stove, it actually emits a poisonous gas called nitrogen oxides. This includes a respiratory irritant called nitrogen dioxide which is thought to be a factor in both causing and triggering asthma with a dose-response manner. In other worse, the more the gas exposure, the greater the risk.

Nitrogen oxides is produced when natural gas is burned at high temperatures in the presence of nitrogen (which occurs in the atmosphere), according to Josiah Kephart, an assistant professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at Drexel University. He also makes the point that, “We’ve known for a long time that [nitrogen dioxide] has many harmful effects on health.”

This is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates outdoor nitrogen dioxide emissions. A recent study published by researchers at Stanford calculated that emission of nitrogen dioxide from certain gas burners or ovens rose above this standard in just a few minutes of use, particularly in small kitchens and without range hood use. (No limit on inside emissions has been set by the EPA.)

But more than that, a 2020 report by Brady Seals and Andee Krasner found that all the following activities resulted in greater nitrogen dioxide emissions than the maximum of 100 parts per billion (ppb) set by the EPA for outdoor pollution:

• Baking cake in oven (230 ppb)

• Roasting meat in oven (296 ppb)

• Frying bacon (104 ppb)

• Boiling water (184 ppb)

• Gas cooktop – no food (up to 300 ppb)

• Gas oven – no food (up to 546 ppb)

Long-term nitrogen dioxide exposure has also been linked to chronic lung disease and increased mortality in general.

Gas stoves also emit other poisons including carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, as well as fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns, which is a known irritant that can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems.

It’s also been found that gas stoves – including those that are new and expensive – leak natural gas even when not in use. This gas contains benzene, a known carcinogen, methane, hexane, and toluene, among other things. One analysis found 21 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this gas. According to Harvard Health, exposure to some VOCs raises the risks for asthma, cancer, and other illnesses.

Effects of Gas Stoves on Childhood Asthma

According to Hasslblad et al., exposure to a gas stove increases the risk of respiratory illness in children by about 20 percent. That was back in 1992, but since then the literature has reaffirmed this link.

According to Scientific American: “A 2013 meta-analysis of 41 studies found that gas cooking increases the risk of asthma in children and that NO2 exposure is linked with currently having a wheeze. Most recently, a study published last December found that 12.7 percent of childhood asthma cases in the U.S. can be attributed to gas stove use.”

These studies have primarily been observational in nature meaning that a causal relationship is difficult to determine. That said, Ulrike Gehring, an associate professor at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, notes that accounting for other risk factors such as parental asthma and second-hand tobacco smoke, which has been done, “increases our confidence” that cooking with gas does, indeed, cause asthma.

In short, it is currently thought that gas stoves can cause asthma, trigger asthma symptoms, and worsen existing asthma symptoms.

Does a Gas Stove Produce Environmental Pollution?

Of course, the gas emissions don’t just stay in the home, either. Both methane and nitrogen dioxide form ground-level smog and ozone, contributing to air pollution. Methane also worsens climate change as it’s a major greenhouse gas, collecting in the atmosphere and trapping heat. Burning gas also produces carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

In a 2022 study, Lebel and his team found that methane emissions from gas stoves in U.S. homes could have as much impact on the climate as half a million cars.

Gas needs to get to homes, too, and that also is not without environmental pollution. Eric Lebel, a senior scientist at PSE Healthy Energy, a non-profit research and policy institute in Oakland, California says,

“We’ve known for years that there’s methane leaks in the [natural gas] distribution system, especially in cities on the East Coast, where the infrastructure is a lot older. And then, even further upstream than that, there are leaks from transmission and from production All of those leaks add up and contribute to the climate impact of the natural gas supply chain.”

Should Gas Stoves Be Banned?

Even though gas stoves harm people’s health and the health of the planet, it’s unlikely that gas stoves will be banned in the near future in the U.S., although some regions are looking to phase out gas stoves in new homes. Of course, even the idea of banning something that some people love as much as gas stoves has raised ire, causing some conservative politicians to push back. As explained in Scientific American, House Republicans have even introduced legislation to prohibit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a government agency that addresses the risk of illness and injury from various products, from outlawing the popular cooking appliances.

However, while the CPSC is not currently looking to ban gas stoves, in the end, Richard Trumka, Jr., a commissioner of the CPSC, may have said it best when he said, “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

How to Protect Your Child Against the Effects of Gas Stoves

If you have a gas stove and you’re looking for protect your child from the dangerous effects gas can have, Scientific American suggests you try these things:

• Use the best exhaust fan you can and use it every time you cook – even if you’re just boiling water. Remember, it’s not the food smells that matter, it’s the gas itself that you’re trying to vent.

• Use your exhaust fan on full, and keep in mind the filter needs to be changed about once every three months.

• Makes sure your exhaust fan vents outside, if at all possible. Recirculating fans don’t help.

• You can open a window to increase ventilation. Opening windows on opposite sides of the kitchen can remove chemical pollutants more quickly.

A portable air filter (like this one) may also be useful.

• Reduce the amount of time you use the gas stove by using electric kettles, pressure cookers, etc.

None of the above will remove all the dangerous gasses from your home, but they can all help reduce the risks involved.

Should You Change to an Electric Stove?

Changing a major kitchen appliance is a personal decision and it can be an expensive one at that. Basically, it involves weighing your budget against the risks of dangerous gasses, especially on children’s lungs. The options of a new appliance will be available for some and not others.

There is some good news, though. The Inflation Reduction Act provides rebates of up to $840 for purchasing new electric appliances, including stoves and cooktops. (Eligibility varies by state and income level.) When going electric, it’s important to remember that you may also have to upgrade your electricity to 220 or 240. That's going to cost you about $300 as well.

If a whole new stove isn’t in the budget, electric cooktops are available for $100 or less.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if electric can be as good as gas for cooking, keep in mind that, according to PBS News Hour, some of the top restaurants in the world, particularly in Europe and in Asia, all use electric induction cooktops and have been doing so for quite some time. It’s mostly in North America where there is resistance, possibly due to the fossil fuel industry campaigns against it.

In all, electric appliances can work as well as gas ones and are better for your, your kids, and the planet.


1. Armand, W., MD. (2022, September 7). Have a gas stove? How to reduce pollution that may harm health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/have-a-gas-stove-how-to-reduce-pollution-that-may-harm-health-202209072811

2. Blum, D. (2023, January 15). Do Gas Stoves Have Health Risks? What to Know and How to Mitigate Them. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/11/well/live/gas-stoves-health-risks.html

3. Childhood asthma - Symptoms and causes. (2021, March 13). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20351507

4. Environmental and health effects associated with gas stoves. (2023, January 20). PBS NewsHour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/a-look-at-the-environmental-and-health-effects-associated-with-gas-stoves

5. Hasselblad, V., Eddy, D. M., & Kotchmar, D. (1992). Synthesis of Environmental Evidence: Nitrogen Dioxide Epidemiology Studies. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 42(5), 662–671. https://doi.org/10.1080/10473289.1992.10467018

6. Lebel, E. D., Finnegan, C. J., Ouyang, Z., & Jackson, R. B. (2022). Methane and NOx Emissions from Natural Gas Stoves, Cooktops, and Ovens in Residential Homes. Environmental Science & Technology, 56(4), 2529–2539. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c04707

7. Lewis, T. (2023, January 19). The Health Risks of Gas Stoves Explained. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-health-risks-of-gas-stoves-explained/

8. Massachusetts Medical Society: Connection Between Natural Gas Stoves and Pediatric Asthma. (n.d.). https://www.massmed.org/Publications/Vital-Signs---Member-Publication/Connection-Between-Natural-Gas-Stoves-and-Pediatric-Asthma/

9. Rocky Mountain Institute. (2022, March 2). Gas Stoves: Health and Air Quality Impacts and Solutions. RMI. https://rmi.org/insight/gas-stoves-pollution-health

10. The National Asthma Council Australia. (n.d.). https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/resources/patients-carers/factsheets/gas-stoves-and-asthma-in-children



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.