18. 05. 2020

Indoor air pollution

Indoor air pollution is caused by open air burning of solid fuel sources – such as firewood, crop waste, and dung – for cooking and heating.

When looking at indoor air pollution policy, the important points to consider are a lack of basic information, habituation, and a lack of resources being directed to solve the problem. Indoor air pollution has been around for thousands of years since man began to light fires inside of caves, but it wasn’t until 1850 when the hygienic revolution began, and again in 1960 when activists began to advocate for cleaner air that we began to pay attention to what we were breathing.[i]

Worldwide, 4.3 million people die annually from indoor air pollution, mainly from stroke (34%), ischemic heart disease (26%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (22%), pneumonia (12%) and lung cancer (6%). Nearly 3 billion poor people rely on wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal which are burned in highly polluting simple stoves or open fires.[ii]

42,900,000 (99%)(WHO 2016) of the Ugandan population primarily use wood, charcoal, coal and kerosene for cooking.[iii]

According to a Household pollution and health report by WHO, exposure to household air pollution almost doubles the risk for childhood pneumonia and is responsible for 45% of all pneumonia deaths in children less than 5 years old. Household air pollution is also risk for acute lower respiratory infections (pneumonia) in adults, and contributes to 28% of all adult deaths to pneumonia.[iv]

In Uganda, according to Emmery Mbaha, the president of the Environmental Health Workers’ Association of Uganda (EHWAU), air pollution is an issue neglected by people.[v]

Mbaha says about 80% of Uganda’s population uses paraffin lamps and candles for lighting. Most rural homes use firewood for cooking, producing a lot of smoke and ash, which is harmful to health. Equally, burning of paraffin produces soot, which is a pollutant.

The WHO states, Close to half of pneumonia deaths among children under five are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

Every year, indoor air pollutants kill more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, ranging from 3.5-4.3 million each year, while negatively impacting the health of millions more. One of the primary causes of indoor air pollution in developing countries is the preparation of food in poorly ventilated homes while using cook stoves that rely on wood, charcoal, and/or dung as their source of fuel.[vi]

Photo 1 is copied from Radio Free Europe/radio Liberty (Reuters)[vii] It’s estimated that half a million children are killed each year as a result of indoor air pollution. (file photo)

Burning Wood Causes Indoor Air Pollution: High levels of smoke pollutants leaking from stoves and fireplaces have been measured in some wood burning homes.[viii]

How clean energy cooking solutions can tackle this problem

In the developing world, humanitarians are looking to distribute cook stoves that are not only more efficient, but are healthier for those who use them by using cleaner forms of energy, like ethanol.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves , led by the United Nations Foundation, is intended to create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions to save lives, empower women and combat climate change.[ix]

In 2014, the WHO put new guidelines in place to mitigate indoor air pollution, including aims to “help countries introduce cleaner technologies, improve air quality in poor households, reduce pollution-related diseases and save lives.”[x]  It designed policies that seek to encourage the manufacture and distribution of clean household energy to increase the supply and availability to consumers.

Raising Gabdho Foundation(RGF) makes smarter cooking accessible to more people, by;[xi]

  • Designing high-quality, low-cost cooking solutions that save money & time and cook faster.
  • Training local people & refugees to make environmentally friendly, low-cost smart stoves from clay and briquettes, with an aim to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy technologies through providing quality, reliable accessible and sustainable renewable energy technologies like the biomass briquettes and the fireless slow cooking basket.
Photo 2 The cooking briquettes are made from biomass. They are a zero-emission, eco-friendly clean energy source.
Photo 3 The fireless slow cooking basket is an ideal way to keep food warm. It is a zero-emission clean energy source.

#cleanenergy  #ecofriendly  #sustainableenergy


[i] The organization of world peace, https://theowp.org/reports/report-the-ravaging-effects-of-indoor-air-pollution/

[ii] Inter Press Service, http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/11/air-pollution-emerges-as-a-top-killer-globally-part-1/

[iii] 42,900,000 (99%) (WHO, 2016)

[iv] WHO (2014) – Fact sheet N°292 – Household air pollution and health. Updated March 2014. Online here.

[v] The New Vision, Uganda, https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1462514/uganda-pollution-challenge

[vi] The organization of world peace, https://theowp.org/reports/report-the-ravaging-effects-of-indoor-air-pollution/

[vii] https://www.rferl.org/a/clay-stoves-health-risks/25142270.html

[viii] http://www.foresthillmessenger.com/news/regional/burning-wood-produces-wood-smoke-and-air-pollution/article_53f030a0-c7fe-11e6-9e77-ef0f33726edb.html

[ix] Fogarty International Centre, https://www.fic.nih.gov/News/Examples/Pages/cookstoves-air-pollution.aspx.

[x] World Health Organization. (2014). WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion. World       Health Organization.

[xi] http://raisinggabdho.org/