By Armando Ruiz, Federación Española de Asociaciones de pacientes alérgicos y con Enfermedades Respiratorias (FENAER) 

During the annual meeting of the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR), Mariano Pastor, President of the Spanish Federation of Associations of Patients with Allergy and Respiratory Diseases (FENAER) introduced health professionals specialising in the respiratory area to the Clean Cooking for Public Health initiative, coordinated by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA). 

In his address, Mr Pastor emphasized the initiative’s objectives: to highlight gas stoves as a significant source of indoor pollution and its detrimental impact on health. He also stressed the urgent need to establish clear limits on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions and phase out gas cooking, advocating for a transition that supports disadvantaged populations. 

Supporting his argument with data, Mr Pastor cited long-established evidence on the detrimental health effects of gas cooking, such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) findings indicating, as early as in 2010, a 20% increased risk of lower respiratory diseases in children exposed to gas cooking, and a meta-analysis linking NO2 from gas cooking to asthma and wheezing in children in 2013. 

Turning to Spain, Pastor referenced a study by the Dutch TNO, estimating over 750,000 European children affected by gas cooking, with Spain ranking third globally. Notably, 121,845 cases of childhood asthma in Spain were attributed to gas cooking. The study revealed that 85% of Spanish gas-cooking households exceeded WHO guidelines, compared to 50% of those using electric stoves. 

Highlighting the potential benefits of intervention, Pastor underscored the considerable reduction in asthma cases achievable by addressing gas-related pollution. 

FENAER’s involvement stemmed from their understanding of patient realities and misinformation about indoor air quality. By participating, FENAER aimed to be agents of change and promote awareness and education among their members and other stakeholders. 

Pastor stressed the importance of information dissemination, noting its role in mobilizing public opinion. However, he lamented the pervasive misinformation, even within public administrations, citing a 2022 European Commission analysis that acknowledged gas cooking as a health issue but that fell short in proposing effective solutions beyond ventilation. 

The necessity for initiatives like Clean Cooking for Public Health was justified by the lack of a cohesive approach to addressing indoor pollution, despite its recognized severity by the WHO. 

Overall, the collaboration between SEPAR, FENAER, and the Clean Cooking for Public Health initiative signifies a concerted effort to raise awareness, advocate for policy change, and improve respiratory health by addressing the issue of indoor pollution caused by gas cooking.