Saturday, September 6, 2014

How harmful is household air pollution?

The use of wood or coal fuel for cooking, heating, and lighting, is said to be putting three billion people worldwide at risk of damaged health and early death.

There are many countries in the world, most in Africa and Asia that predominantly use wood or charcoal, or coal, to cook, heat, and light their homes - approximately one third of global population.

These smoky fuels are very dirty and the result of their combustion is high levels of indoor air pollution.  It is reported that in some areas, household air pollution is so high that it actually contributes to an increase of outdoor air pollution.

Because of the excessive levels of  household air pollution an estimated 600-800 million families worldwide are at increased risk of illnesses that include respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, COPD, asthma, and lung cancer.

The UK researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine concluded that household air pollution killed approximately 4 million people in 2010. The researchers also reported that there are close to 3 billion people that are currently exposed to excessive levels of household air pollution.

Many third world countries have failed in their efforts to tackle household air pollution and the public awareness of the risks of cooking with wood and coal in poorly ventilated homes remains very low.

Scientists and health personnel in countries where household air pollution is still taking heavy toll need to work with governments and international health agencies to increase awareness of this issue in order to have any chance of success.

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