Indoor Cooking with Biomass and Coal

Indoor Cooking with Biomass and Coal

Approximately 40% of the world’s population employs biomass or coal stoves which are a large source of a range of indoor air pollutants [1, 2]. An estimated 3.5 million (range 2.6 to 4.4 million) deaths per year and 4.3% (range 3.4% to 5.3%) of the global burden of disease may result from the associated indoor particle pollution [3]. Associated diseases include acute respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cancer, tuberculosis, low birth weight and infant mortality, heart disease, and cataracts [1, 4].

Biomass and coal-based stoves are important sources of emissions of black carbon particles and methane, which contribute to climate change. Climate change will not directly affect use of biomass and coal stoves. However, use of more efficient and lower-emitting biomass and coal stoves, or use of stoves that employ other fuels, is an attractive climate change mitigation measure that could improve indoor air quality and health for a very large population. Wilkinson et al. [4] projected large health benefits from a 10-year program to introduce 150 million low-emission biomass stoves in India. They estimated that by 2020 this intervention would prevent 240,000 deaths from lower respiratory infections and 1.8 million deaths from heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while providing climate-related benefits equivalent to preventing emissions of one half to one billion tons of carbon dioxide.   

1.         Bruce, N., R. Perez-Padilla, and R. Albalak, Indoor air pollution in developing countries: a major environmental and public health challenge. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2000. 78(9): p. 1078-1092.

2.         Bonjour, S., et al., Solid fuel use for household cooking: country and regional estimates for 1980-2010. Environ Health Perspect, 2013. 121(7): p. 784-90.

3.         Lim, S.S., et al., A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet, 2012. 380(9859): p. 2224-60.

4.         Wilkinson, P., et al., Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy. The Lancet, 2009. 374(9705): p. 1917-1929.