Quick said it was one of the first studies that tried to evaluate the health benefits of improved cookstoves that do not vent smoke outside the homes.
Sumi Mehta, director of programs for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, said, "This Kenya study underscores that fact that while cookstoves designed to burn more efficiently may save time and money by reducing fuel use and cooking faster, only cookstoves which offer substantial emissions reductions are likely to improve health."
While aimed primarily at improving health conditions, improved cookstoves have also become a key tool in efforts to help developing countries reduce their carbon footprints because the improved devices generally emit far less carbon dioxide than traditional fires. To that end, the United Nations has approved a program allowing for the creation of voluntary emission credits from the use of clean-burning stoves. Such credits can be sold in international carbon markets.
Linking smoke and pneumonia
For the study, researchers from the CDC, the Emory University School of Medicine, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and Kenya's Safe Water and AIDS Project monitored the health of children under age 3 in 20 villages of western Kenya's Nyando District. The households were already participating in another study addressing water quality.
Since 2008, households in the district have been able to purchase locally made upesi jiko stoves for $2 to $3, and some homes in the water quality study were using the ceramic stoves. The researchers evaluated how cough, pneumonia and severe pneumonia rates differed among infants in different homes, and whether the differences were related to the use of the cookstoves or traditional fire pit cooking.
Research has found that household air pollution can increase the risk of pneumonia, and that exposure to emissions from the burning of solid fuel like wood and charcoal nearly doubled the risk of pneumonia in young children as tiny soot particles and toxic gases inflame the airways and lungs.
Meanwhile, research continues under the guidance of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership of the United Nations Foundation, and the World Health Organization to evaluate technologies that most effectively reduce pollution and aid in overall health conditions for women and children in developing countries.
To date, the alliance and its partners have raised an estimated $114 million as part of a campaign to get lower-emissions cookstoves into 100 million homes by 2020. A major thrust of that work is helping overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment and use of clean cookstoves in developing countries, the alliance said.
Mehta noted that the alliance is currently funding three studies to better understand the link between cookstoves and child health outcomes in Ghana, Nepal and Nigeria.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500