Household gas cooking: a risk factor for respiratory illnesses in preschool children

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Abstract

Aims:

To explore the association of household gas cooking and respiratory illnesses in preschool children and their relation to outdoor air pollution.

Methods:

Cross-sectional study among households that used gas stoves for cooking in two housing estates with contrasting air qualities in Hong Kong. A structured questionnaire was administered to parents of 426 children aged 0–6 years on their exposure to gas cooking and passive smoking, and the prevalence of respiratory illnesses.

Results:

A total of 111 children (26.1%) were reported to have one or more respiratory illnesses (allergic rhinitis, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia). Of these, 21 (18.9%), 41 (36.9%), and 49 (44.1%) children were from households that cooked once, twice, and three times a day with gas. Hierarchical logistic regression models adjusting for socioeconomic, demographic, and indoor risk factors including passive smoking showed that household gas cooking was positively associated with respiratory illnesses. There was a dose-response relation between the frequency of gas cooking and the prevalence of respiratory illnesses in the estate with lower outdoor air pollution (OR = 6.1 and 3.2 respectively, for cooking three and two meals a day, compared to one meal a day). This relation was not observed in the more polluted estate. The association between the presence of a cigarette smoker in the household and the prevalence of respiratory illnesses was not significant.

Conclusions:

As gas cooking is common in urban households, the findings could have important public health implications.

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