The dynamics of paraffin use in a low-income South African community

by Robynn Paulsen

Issue: 60

Journal section: General Articles
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Received: Fri 25 of May, 2012


Paraffin is a widely used energy source in low-income households in South Africa; however, the unsafe use of this fuel is associated with high incidence of fires, injuries and ingestion. The objectives of the study were to identify the energy mix of paraffin users, determine practices linked to paraffin use, and determine the incidence of energy-related harm among the sample. This was achieved by surveying 250 households in Soul City, an informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa. The findings of the survey identified several harmful behaviours relating to paraffin use in Soul City. This includes poor ventilation when using paraffin for heating, lack of appropriate paraffin containers, and high incidence of unsafe paraffin stoves. The findings highlight the need for a multi-sectoral approach to eradicate paraffin-related harm. This is dependent on collaboration between civil society, government departments, end users, academia and businesses.

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Tags: Paraffin   ,   low-income   ,   South Africa   ,   ingestion   ,   safety   ,   indoor air pollution   
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