Household Air Pollution from Cookstoves: Impacts on Health and Climate
Household air pollution (HAP) is an exposure of poverty. The success in having a sustainable reduction in HAP requires an understanding of the traditions and culture of the family as well as the causes of poverty that place the family at the bottom of the energy ladder. An integrated approach to reducing HAP with efforts also aimed at correcting other poverty-related issues is challenging but offers the hope for addressing root causes of poverty in a community setting that provides a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to improving health, the environment, and, ultimately, the global climate. From one perspective, research that provides detailed exposure-responses to HAP may seem superfluous to the obvious need for poor families to breathe cleaner air at home. One can argue that we already have decades of information on the health risks from outdoor air pollution or the products of incomplete combustion from tobacco smoke and so further research is not needed. However, there is a compelling need to know how clean a stove or fuel must be to significantly reduce health risks, so that with proper use, major implementation of such new technology may reasonably provide the intended benefits for improved health, the regional environment, and the global climate. The alternative of providing electrification or use of clean fuels such as LPG may not be realistic for the world’s poor for decades to come, if ever. Addressing the key scientific gaps related to HAP and its reduction will provide critical new information that can inform large scale implementation programs to provide sufficiently clean household air for families living in poverty, such that diseases are prevented, a healthier lifestyle is promoted, and a reduction in global warming trends buys more time for a planet in peril from climate change.
KeywordsBiomass Household air pollution Climate change Poverty and climate change
This research was supported [in part] by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (W.J.M.). Support is provided by NIH grants ES016126, ES020426, AI081672 and the Duke Provost’s Fund, which support the Duke Cookstove Initiative (to J.W.H.).
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