WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The nitrogen dioxide emitted by gas stoves and unvented heaters can be a health hazard to children with asthma, leading to increased wheezing, persistent cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness, experts report.
The dangers appear limited to youngsters living in larger, multi-family housing, however.
Researchers at the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology studied 728 asthmatic children, younger than 12 years old, in 242 multi-family housing units and 486 single-family housing units.
The average nitrogen dioxide level in homes with gas stoves was 25.9 parts per billion in homes with gas stoves, compared with just 8.6 parts per billion in households with electric stoves.
And concentrations were higher in multi-family vs. single-family dwellings, the researchers added. Overall, the study found that 45.9 percent of multi-family housing units had nitrogen dioxide concentrations greater than 20 parts per billion, compared with 9.3 percent of single-family housing units.
"To date, this is the largest study to examine the effects of nitrogen dioxide on children with asthma," study author Kathleen Belanger said in a prepared statement. "The study population was quite diverse and included both white and non-white children living in single-family and multi-family homes, and children living in urban and suburban environments."
The study appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
There are currently no U.S. standards for indoor levels of nitrogen dioxide, the study authors noted. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outdoor standard for nitrogen dioxide is 53 parts per billion.
The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.