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Unflued gas heaters and respiratory symptoms in older people with asthma
  1. P J Franklin1,2,
  2. J Loveday1,2,
  3. A Cook1,2
  1. 1School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2Cooperative Research Centre for Asthma and Airways, Glebe, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr P Franklin, School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, Western Australia 6009; peter.franklin{at}


Background Unflued gas heaters (UFGHs) and cookers are a major contributor to air pollution in homes. Gas appliances have been associated with adverse respiratory outcomes in children and, less consistently, adults. There have been very few studies on the effects of gas appliances on the respiratory health of older people.

Objectives This study investigated the daily lung function and respiratory symptoms of older people (>55 years of age) who did and did not use an UFGH as a primary source of heating.

Methods 71 patients with asthma were recruited for the study. Each patient participated for one 12-week winter period. All patients recorded daytime and night-time symptoms in a diary and completed morning and evening peak flow and forced expiratory volume in 1 s for the study period. General estimating equations were used to measure the associations between symptoms and lung function outcomes and same and previous day (lag 1) UFGH exposure.

Results Same and previous day (lag 1) UFGH exposure was associated with significantly increased ORs for wheeze and dyspnoea compared with days on which no heating was used. Furthermore, there were significant increases in the average odds of reported wheeze and dyspnoea per hour of UFGH heater use. Small but significant reductions in morning to evening peak flow and forced expiratory volume in 1 s were observed on the days an UFGH was used compared with days when other heating was used or there was no heating.

Conclusion Exposure to UFGHs may have a detrimental effect on symptoms and lung function in older people with mild to moderate asthma.

  • Asthma
  • older people
  • gas heaters
  • indoor air
  • peak flow
  • asthma epidemiology
  • exhaled airway markers
  • occupational lung disease
  • asthma epidemiology
  • COPD epidemiology
  • paediatric asthma

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  • Funding Australian Government research funding.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by University of Western Australia Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.