Washington: A new research has revealed that household air pollution, sourced by the use of plant-based or coal fuel for cooking, heating, and lightingaround, could cause 3 million people to suffer from health risks and early death worldwide.
A third of the world's population use plant-based solid fuels such as wood or charcoal, or coal, to cook, heat, and light their homes, primarily in Asia and Africa. These smoky, dirty fuels are often used in an open fire or simple stove, resulting in high levels of household air pollution in poorly ventilated homes.
Studies in India have found that in some areas, household air pollution was so high that it actually increases outdoor (ambient) air pollution, leading to pollution levels more than three times higher than a typical London street, and well above WHO-recommended safety levels.
The study led by Professor Stephen Gordon, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, and Professor William Martin, from The Ohio State University, USA, examined evidence for the effects of household air pollution on health. They concluded that an estimated 600-800 million families worldwide are at increased risk of illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, COPD, asthma, and lung cancer.
Estimates suggested that household air pollution killed 3.5 to 4 million people in 2010. Although overall rates of exposure to household air pollution have been declining slowly in recent years, population growth means that the number of people exposed has remained stagnant, at around 2.8 billion people worldwide.
Professor Gordon said that, although a number of clean cooking technologies, such as advanced cook stoves, LPG or solar power systems, exist, providing affected homes with cleaner ways to cook, heat, and light their homes with biomass fuel would not be the long term solution.
He further added that in communities where solid fuel cooking methods are currently the norm, cleaner fuel and cooking methods need to be at least as affordable, efficient, and long-lasting as the traditional style methods they replace and they also need to be fit for the different cultures and regions in which they're used.
The study is published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal.