The Relationship Between Respiratory Illness in Children and Gas Cookers and Paraffin Heaters in the UK
In England, a series of studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between the prevalence of respiratory illness in children and gas cookers and paraffin heaters. The early studies concentrated on the effects of gas cookers on health. The prevalence of respiratory illness in primary school children from both a national representative sample and a group living in Middlesbrough in the north of England was associated with the use of gas for cooking in the home (P < 0.05), independent of other social and environmental factors. It is possible that this association is caused by indoor air pollution, in particular nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which arises in the emissions of gas combustion. However, in two further studies no consistent relationship was found between the prevalence of respiratory illness and weekly average levels of NO2 measured in the home. Most recently an association has been found between the prevalence of respiratory illness in Afro-Caribbean and Caucasian primary school children living in inner cities and the combined use of a gas cooker and paraffin heaters in the home (P < 0.05). It is possible that the levels of NO2 in these children’s homes are much higher than those previously reported. This is now being investigated.