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Altered screenshot makes false link between gas stove use and risk to heart health

Altered screenshot makes false link between gas stove use and risk to heart health - Featured image

Author(s): Kate TAN, AFP Australia

An altered screenshot appearing to show a tweet by US television station KOB 4 about research that shows homes with gas stoves have an “increased risk of cardiovascular events” has been shared hundreds of times on social media. A spokesperson for KOB 4 told AFP their original tweet about links between gas stoves and asthma had been manipulated. A health expert also told AFP that no published study associated gas stove cooking with a risk to heart health.

The altered screenshot was shared on Facebook here on January 19, 2023.

It is presented as a genuine tweet from the account of KOB 4, a television station based in Albuquerque, in the US state of New Mexico.

The purported tweet reads: “A new study published found that homes with gas stoves have a 47.3% increased risk of cardiovascular events. They also found that gas stove usage jumped enormously in 2020.”

The tweet also includes a picture of a lit gas stove with superimposed text that reads: “The hidden health risks”.

A screenshot of the misleading post, captured on February 1

The purported screenshot was also shared on Facebook here, here, here and here; and on Twitter here.

Some of the posts insinuate there is a conspiracy to cover up links between rare heart inflammation and Covid-19 vaccines.

AFP has previously debunked a claim that suggested weather-linked health warnings were part of a conspiracy to cover up rare cardiovascular illness caused by Covid-19 vaccines.

AFP has also debunked misinformation on rare heart inflammation linked to Covid-19 vaccines here, here and here.

While myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle — and pericarditis — inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart — are rare side effects of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, most cases are mild and patients recover quickly.

Health authorities, including the World Health Organization, say the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks — and those who contract the coronavirus are at a much higher risk for myocarditis.

A KOB 4 spokesperson told AFP they had not published a story linking gas stoves to an increased risk of cardiovascular events and their original tweet had been altered.

Childhood asthma study

“The photo in that linked Facebook post was manipulated from an actual tweet we posted on our Twitter account,” a KOB 4 spokesperson told AFP on February 1.

The spokesperson provided a link to a KOB 4 tweet from January 12 that reads: “A study published in late 2022 found 12.7% of childhood asthma cases are linked to homes with a gas stove.”

The tweet links to an article about the study on the KOB 4 website.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the altered screenshot (left) and the original tweet from KOB 4 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the altered screenshot (left) and the original tweet from KOB 4 (right)

The article references a study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) in December 2022 titled, “Population Attributable Fraction of Gas Stoves and Childhood Asthma in the United States”.

According to the study, 12.7 percent of current childhood asthma cases in the United States are attributable to gas stove use, which is similar to the childhood asthma cases attributed to second-hand smoke exposure.

It makes no mention of risks to cardiovascular health.

Links not demonstrated

US environmental health scientist Curtis Nordgaard told AFP on February 2 that, according to peer-reviewed studies, cardiovascular risks had been associated with burning wood or coal in stoves in low- and middle-income countries.

“One could infer that there might be some cardiovascular effects of cooking with natural gas indoors (especially if poorly ventilated) based upon what we know about outdoor air pollution, but that has not been demonstrated through published studies,” he said.

The KOB 4 article also cited two earlier papers about the potential health impact of gas stoves — a 2013 review of 41 studies that found gas stoves increase the risk of asthma, and a 2022 study that looked into methane and nitrogen dioxide emissions from gas ovens in residential homes.

Neither the 2013 review nor the 2022 study mentions associated risks to heart health.

‘Ban’ triggers a backlash

The altered screenshot circulated as talk of a ban on cooking with gas became the latest rallying cry for US Republicans.

The noisy debate was sparked by a member of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) saying a ban could not be ruled out due to the “hidden hazard” of gas stove emissions.

Republican elected officials quickly seized on the comments as evidence of Democrats’ supposed wish to undermine American freedoms.

One Republican senator, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, tweeted: “Democrats are coming for your kitchen appliances. Their desire to control every aspect of your life knows no bounds — including how you make breakfast.”

The CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric later clarified that the agency was not planning a ban.

“Research indicates that emissions from gas stoves can be hazardous, and the CPSC is looking for ways to reduce related indoor air quality hazards. But to be clear, I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so,” read a statement from January 11.

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Originally published here.
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