Household Air Pollution from Solid Cookfuels and Health

Authors: Kirk R. Smith, Ajay Pillarisetti


Household air pollution (HAP) is a major health risk, especially in poor countries which rely on biomass for cooking. Particulate matter concentration in indoor kitchens that use solid fuels for cooking account for an estimated 370,000 premature deaths globally based on 2014 data. Direct health impacts include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung disease, and cataracts while children face acute lower respiratory infections. Interventions offer cleaner stoves through national stove programs and the development of standards and guidelines to promote only the cleanest devices, emphasizing the optimal use of electricity, natural gas, or LPG. Little benefit comes from converting individual users, so interventions need to target communities to become “smokeless” villages. Successful stove programs typically involve a public subsidy for the poor and because of savings on health care costs, its expense can be justified. Full adoption of a newer technology for clean cooking may not occur until generational change, with the present generation continuing to use the traditional methods despite the benefits to the family of the cleaner technology.



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