Under Scrutiny, Authors of Activist Study on Asthma and Gas Stoves Admit No ‘Causal Relationship’

Authors of a recent study that has been touted by activists, the U.S. Energy Secretary and in media outlets across the country as justification for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enact a federal gas stove ban have been forced to admit that their study does not actually find a causal link between using a gas stove and increased cases of asthma. As the Washington Examiner reports:

“Responding to a request for comment, RMI manager Brady Seals told the Washington Examiner in an email Wednesday that the think tank’s study ‘does not assume or estimate a causal relationship’ between childhood asthma and natural gas stoves.” (emphasis added)

That’s a big backtrack from Seals’ depiction of the study when it was released in December. At the time she tweeted that her team “found that 12.7% of childhood current asthma in the US can be attributable to gas stove use.” (emphasis added)

RMI’s study was really a selective literature review that omitted key research on the topic. For example, the authors chose not to include the most comprehensive asthma study to date that found no evidence of an association between the use of gas as a cooking fuel and either asthma symptoms or asthma diagnosis.” That study included data points from more than 500,000 children globally.

RMI’s conclusions were also not based on any real measurements or tests on appliance usage or exposure. The study also relies on a data model calculation from 27 studies RMI has failed to disclose. The American Gas Association has explained how the methods in RMI’s meta-analysis raise serious questions about accuracy and applicability:

“The authors selected an estimated health risk, but if this value is wrong or biased, then the paper’s results will also be wrong or biased. Overall, because the calculation in the Gruenwald et al. study is based on data that are either not validated or do not accurately reflect risks associated with gas cooking, the results are equally unvalidated and have the same concerns with inaccuracy and unreliability.”

EID has previously detailed the flaws in other RMI studies on indoor air quality, as well as research from the anti-fracking group Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

Bottomline: RMI’s claim of a causal link between gas stove usage and childhood asthma was always suspect. The fact that one of the lead authors had to publicly backtrack weeks later – albeit after countless headlines repeating the claim were published – suggests that the study cannot withstand scrutiny.

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