Women are exposed to smoke for several hours each day (BP40, Practical Action)
More than half the world’s population still depend on solid fuels (coal, wood, agriculturalresidues etc.) to meet their energy needs (WHO 2008). Using solid fuels on traditional open fires results in high levels of IndoorAirPollution resulting in 1.6 million deaths per year (one death every 20 seconds). This is higher than the number of deaths caused by malaria each year (WHO 2002).

Cooking on traditional open and three-stone fires results in large amounts of smoke being produced containing carcinogenic particulates and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced due to the incomplete combustion of fuel, levels of carbon monoxide up to 20 times higher than acceptable WHO guidelines have been recorded as emissions from these traditional cooking methods. A further health risk from cooking methods particularly open fires which are not contained is burns. Women and children are most at risk from poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and burns as women carry out most of the cooking, whilst small children remain close to their mothers. 59% of all indoor pollution-attributed deaths fall on females whilst 56% occur in children under 5 years of age.

Indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7% of the global burden for disease. The ImpactsOfPoorIAQ are respiratory illness including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, tuberculosis, perinatal outcomes including low birth weight, and eye diseases.

IndoorAirPollutionandHealth (IAP) is a major problem and reducing air pollution is critical for achieving the MDGs (see HowToReduceIndoorAirPollutants). It affects child mortality (MDG 4) and gender equality (MDG 3). In 2006 The 14th session of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD14) took place in New York, WHO, GTZ, the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, Practical Action and the US Environmental Protection Agency organised a joint side event entitled "4000 deaths a day from cooking fires? Lets prevent them!". The aim being make a case for the urgent need to improve access to household energy among the poor. This was followed up a year later at CSD15.

It is evident that immediate and ongoing action is required to address indoor air pollution. However, it is important that we act EnsuringSustainability in order to meet the users needs and providing long term solutions addressing the health and financing needs of the user as well as considering environmental impact and marketing issues for the alternative technology proposed.

Links to information about HouseholdSmokeMonitoring provides information based on work by Practical Action in how to effectively reduce smoke emissions.

Further Resources:

Name Type
UN Group Urges Renewed Effort to Increase Energy Access through Public-Private Partnership
The Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) brings together top UN officials and business executives, including Edison International, Statoil, Suntech Holdings, and Vattenfall to close the
UN report pushes for energy access and efficiency to fight poverty and climate change
New York: Increasing access to clean energy & improving efficiency will be vital to enhancing global prosperity & combating climate change, according to new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
UNEP facilitated workshop - Enhancing Energy Access in Rural & Peri-urban Settlements
A joint GNESD/CEMA workshop "Enhancing Energy Access in Rural and Peri-urban Settlements: Knowledge-Based Policy Engagement".
UNICEF UK case study on children and climate change in Kenya
UNICEF UK has recently published a new piece of research looking at the current and future impacts of climate change on children in Kenya at regional level.
USAID information resources available on Improved cookstoves & Indoor Air Pollution
News feed now available providing regular updates, news and information on issues pertaining to indoor air pollution along with the latest information on the commercialization of improved cookstoves i
USAID RFA: Supportive Environments for Healthy Households & Communities
This activity will support the further development, introduction, and delivery of high-impact interventions in the areas of water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and approximately 20 percent of the pr
USAID: Evaluation of wood-burning stoves for use in refugee camps & disaster relief situations
The purpose of this study was to obtain information on the potential suitability of a new generation of manufactured biomass cooking stoves for refugee and Internally Displaced Person (IDP) environmen
Vacancies at GVEP International East Africa – deadline extended
GVEP International is inviting applications for two new positions: a Regional Manager and a Programme Manager to support Energy Small and Medium Enterprises in selected countries in East and West Afri
Volunteering opportunities: Tanzania Solar Energy Association
Tanzania Solar Energy Association (TASEA), invites people who like to work within the fields of renewable energies for a maximum of 3 months.
Volunteers wanted to translate Boiling Point into French, Spanish & Chinese
We are looking for people who could confidently translate Boiling Point into French. Spanish or Chinese.

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  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

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