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Gas heaters can trigger asthma

Use of natural gas-powered heaters, ovens, and cooking stoves in the home may worsen asthma symptoms in preschool children.

Gas heaters can trigger asthma

Use of natural gas-powered heaters, ovens, and cooking stoves in the home may worsen asthma symptoms in preschool children. Any household device that uses natural gas, especially one that is improperly vented, can release nitrogen dioxide into the home. To estimate the effect of indoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations on asthma among children, researchers from America measured nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the bedrooms of 150 children aged between 2 and 6 years. Sixty-three percent of the children had persistent asthma symptoms. It was found that use of gas stoves, heaters or home heating with a stove or an oven, either in combination or alone, each drove up nitrogen dioxide levels. On an average, homes with gas stoves had 15 parts per billion higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide than homes without gas stoves. Homes with gas heaters averaged approximately 7 parts per billion higher nitrogen dioxide levels. It was also reported that exposure to the pollutant worsened day and night asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Each 20-unit nitrogen dioxide increase was associated with a 10 percent increase in coughing days and a 15 percent increase in days with limited speech among the children. The above findings indicate that asthma flare-ups in young children were directly related to high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide within their homes. The researchers recommend proper ventilation of natural gas devices to minimise worsening of asthma among preschool children. Follow up studies are needed to determine how best to reduce nitrogen dioxide in the home, and whether they reduce asthma symptoms.
Environmental Health Perspectives
October 2008
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