Indoor gas cooking has been linked to 12.7 percent of all childhood asthma cases in the United States, a new study has found, comparing its health effect to that of passive smoking.

The investigation prompted calls, including from US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, for more Americans to use electric and induction cooktops, as well as criticism from the gas lobby.

About 35 percent of American kitchens have gas stoves, which previous research has shown have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide, which, in turn, have been linked to higher rates of asthma.

Environmental think tank Rocky Mountain Institute led the peer-reviewed study published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The study’s lead author, Talor Gruenwald, a data scientist with electrification advocacy group Rewiring America, said the findings suggest that around 650,000 children in the US

Pointing to a comparable asthma risk to secondhand smoke, he told AFP that “using a gas stove is a lot like having a smoker living in your house.”

The study used the same method as 2018 research that attributed 12.3 per cent of childhood asthma in Australia to gas stoves.

It used a 2013 meta-analysis of 41 previous studies to determine the risk of asthma for children in households with gas cooking, and combined that information with data from the 2019 census from nine US states.

– Growing calls to action –

The American Gas Association, a lobbying group, criticized the study as an “advocacy-based mathematical exercise that adds no new science.”

The group stated that the “study authors did not perform measurements or tests based on appliance use, emission rates, or real-life exposures.”

Gruenwald dismissed the lobby’s statement as a “standard response” that did not point to any investigation that might call into question his findings.

The study comes amid growing calls in the US for action on the dangers of gas cooking.

“We can and must FIX this,” Secretary of Energy Granholm tweeted in response to the study.

He added that President Joe Biden’s mammoth Inflation Reduction Act would “give Americans greater access to electric and induction cooktops.”

Last month, a commissioner of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said his agency would issue a formal request for public information about the dangers of cooking with gas.

The commissioner, Richard Trumka Jr, said in a video that “we must take into account the possibility of a ban.”

Twenty Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, also signed a letter last month calling on the agency to take action on the issue.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children, affecting some 262 million people worldwide and causing 455,000 deaths in 2019, according to the World Health Organization.