Exposure to nitrogen dioxide from gas cookers can impact the cardiovascular system, according to researchers at King’s College London.
The researchers examined the blood chemistry and cardiovascular changes of 12 healthy volunteers as they sat next to a domestic gas cooker for ninety minutes followed by ninety minutes in an area with normal background nitrogen levels.
The researchers found that the period next to a gas cooker increased nitrogen dioxide levels in the air 10-fold, meaning that people with domestic gas appliances or people working in kitchens with gas cookers may be exposed to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide than found on the streets.
Exposure to this nitrogen dioxide resulted in lowered blood pressure by 5 mm Hg from 45 minutes onwards.
The researchers have highlighted that while this short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide may actually be beneficial in lowering blood pressure, other studies have highlighted the adverse effects of long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide for asthmatics.
Dr Andrew Webb, clinical senior lecturer at the School f Cardiovascular Medicine and Sciences said: ‘High blood pressure is the biggest single contributor to deaths around the world.
‘Therefore, if exposure to nitrogen dioxide from gas cookers contributes to lowering blood pressure, this could be beneficial per se, and in the context of general air pollution may partially offset the adverse cardiovascular effects of short-term exposures to elevated particulate matter concentrations.
‘The mechanism by which nitrogen dioxide lowers blood pressure appears to be through linking into the same pathway as dietary nitrate: both result in an increase in blood nitrite levels. Therefore, it is not just what you eat, but how you cook it that matters.’
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