When you have asthma, triggers that cause unexpected flare-ups can come from everywhere. While most people are familiar with common irritants like pollen, dust, and pet dander, other air pollutants can also contribute to an asthma attack or flare-up.

Although there currently isn’t a cure for asthma, learning to avoid certain triggers and improving the indoor air quality in your home can be critical toward managing your condition.

One common question is whether gas appliances specifically are a trigger for childhood asthma attacks. Let’s look at what we currently know:

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the lungs. It is most typically associated with constricted (narrowed) bronchial tubes within the lungs, often caused by inflammation. This can make the simple act of breathing incredibly difficult.

Both adults and children can have asthma. While some people develop the condition at a young age, others may not experience it until later in life. Currently, there is no cure for asthma.

Anyone with asthma can experience flare-ups after exposure to triggers. But the concern about gas stoves and asthma tends to focus on children.

Asthma flare-ups are often caused by exposure to environmental factors that can trigger bronchial restrictions. Some of the most common triggers include air pollutants such as pet dander, pollen, dust, mold, and even air pollution like soot and smoke.

Triggers could also include volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs can be manufactured or naturally occurring.

Methane, the common compound you smell when you turn on a gas stove burner, is also a VOC.

Should you switch to an electric stove?

Before you toss your beloved gas stove in favor of an electric model, it’s important to point out that research conducted in the United States continues to be inconclusive on whether or not gas stoves are direct contributors to childhood asthma flare-ups.

While the Australian National Asthma Council (NAC) cites a local Australian study that found a link between childhood asthma and gas stoves, sources in the United States haven’t made that connection consistently.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, evidence is inconclusive on whether gas stoves play a role in causing or worsening asthma and asthma flare-ups in both children and adults. This is because gas stoves usually aren’t used for extended periods. Instead, they’re only turned on when you’re cooking.

Gas heating and other sources

It’s more likely that indoor heating methods other than central heating are likely to blame, according to 2008 research. This is because heating methods such as wood or coal stoves, kerosine stoves, gas heaters, and other fume-emitting heaters are more likely to be left on for extended periods.

All of these heating methods result in VOCs being released into the air, where they linger. As a result, studies have consistently shown that homes with alternative heating methods besides central air have a stronger link to childhood asthma than homes with central heating, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Getting help for your asthma symptoms

There may not currently be a cure for asthma, but managing your condition is critical to improving your quality of life. Get help for your asthma symptoms by seeing a physician or pulmonary specialist.

Lifestyle changes can improve asthma. Many people with asthma may also require medication and should be aware of triggers that can cause an asthma attack.

Medications prescribed to manage asthma can vary based on the severity of your condition. Common prescriptions include rescue inhalers and long-term control medications, which can be inhaled or taken in pill form.

As mentioned earlier, gas stoves can potentially contribute to indoor air pollution due to VOCs, but not to the same consistent degree as other alternative heat sources that are usually left on for extended periods.

In truth, VOCs can cover a wide range of emissions and can come from many items commonly found in your home. This makes it hard to create a direct link between your cooking appliances and asthma flare-ups.

Everything from electronics, carpeting, furniture, plastic toys, paper, paint, household cleaners, and even crafting materials can release gasses — which can all contribute to poor indoor air quality.

However, if you find that cooking with your gas stove is a frequent asthma trigger for you, you may want to look into getting an electric stove or better ventilation for your kitchen.

What gasses can an indoor stove release?

Indoor stoves can release a wide range of VOCs. The most common ones include:

While air pollution can come from anywhere in your home, you should ensure that your gas stove has a vent (and use it when your stovetop is on). Unvented gas stoves have been linked to childhood asthma in several European studies, according to 2008 research.

You should also use a hood with an electric stove, since they can easily produce smoke.

For the best results, you should look beyond the kitchen and take a holistic approach to your home’s air quality. This means focusing on boosting ventilation and fresh air flow throughout your home.

Along with opening your windows to allow fresh air to circulate, you might invest in quality air purifiers that not only tackle common air pollutants (dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander) but also trap VOCs and odor molecules.

Along with a True HEPA filter, you’ll want to look for air purifier models that also have a pre-filter that relies on activated carbon. Carbon is especially effective at trapping odors and VOCs in a way that True HEPA filters cannot.

Best air purifiers for homes with gas stoves

The best air purifiers for homes with gas stoves are going to be those that can target VOCs.

This means you’ll want a unit that has both a True HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. Activated carbon is effective at removing VOCs and odors, while the True HEPA filter can trap other asthma allergens like dust, dander, pollen, and mold.

How many air purifiers you may need depends on the size and natural airflow of your home. To get the best solution for each room of your home, pay attention to the clean air delivery rate (CADR) score.

This determines how effectively an air purifier can clean the air within a set period. However, CADR scores can vary depending on the pollutant being targeted, and there are no CADR scores assigned for VOC filtration.

If you’re unsure of where to start your search, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has created a CADR online directory to find a clean air appliance that fits your needs.

If your gas stove cooks well, you don’t have to toss it just because you or someone in your home has asthma. In truth, multiple factors can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Heating methods are the most likely cause beyond common irritants like smoke, pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust.

Although there’s no cure for asthma, prioritizing indoor air quality can go a long way toward reducing triggers that can cause flare-ups.

Along with cleaning and vacuuming regularly to keep common pollutants to a minimum, investing in a good quality air purifier (with both a True HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter) can improve air quality in your home and reduce the risk of asthma flare-ups.

If you find that you are having difficulty managing your asthma symptoms, from a gas stove or any other trigger, make sure to work with your doctor to create an effective asthma control plan.