Indoor Air Quality Updates
RFA 12-1: COOKSTOVES AND CHILD SURVIVAL | Source: Alliance website, June 16, 2013 |
A total of 20 applications were received in response to RFA 12-1. The Alliance’s External Review Panel, which included clinicians, epidemiologists, public health practitioners, and experts in exposure assessment, reviewed and ranked these applications. The Alliance has awarded grants to the three highest ranked applicants.
GRANT 1 - MOLECULAR METHODS FOR ETIOLOGIES OF PNEUMONIA IN THE GHANA BIOMASS STOVE STUDY
Principal Investigator: Dr. Darby Jack
Institution: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
We will investigate the potential relationship between household air pollution and respiratory tract infection in a cluster-randomized controlled cookstove environment in Ghana through pursuit of two objectives. First we will add standardized physician diagnosis of all pneumonia and severe pneumonia to our current primary outcome (fieldworker assessed probable pneumonia). Second, we will use MassTag PCR, a state-of-the-art multiplex molecular tool for pathogen identification developed by researchers at Columbia University, to determine respiratory pathogens responsible for pneumonia infections in a sample of physican diagnosed severe pneumonia cases. The proposed work will enhance the scientific relevance of the parent study, and will shed new light on which respiratory pathogens are most responsive to household energy interventions. It may also implicate specific pathogens that can be addressed through use of vaccines or other interventions. The proposal has been developed through collaboration between the Kintampo Health Research Centre in Ghana, the Center for Infection and Immunity, and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University.
GRANT 2 - NEPAL COOKSTOVE INTERVENTION TRIAL
Principal Investigator: Dr. James Tielsch
Institution: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Acute lower respiratory infections remain the leading cause of death among children under 5 in the world. The observational epidemiologic data strongly support an association of open burning of biomass fuel sources in the home and ALRI. As a result of strong international interest in programs for reducing indoor air pollution there is a need for randomized trials to generate data on the potential health impacts. The Nepal Cookstove Replacement Trial is a large, cluster-randomized, step-wedge designed trial to assess the impact of replacing traditional open burning stoves with an “improved” stove on the incidence of ALRI and adverse reproductive outcomes in a rural population in southern Nepal.
Enrollment and follow-up of over 3600 households will be completed by the summer of 2012, but the “improved” stove used in this project (Envirofit G3355 with chimney) only reduces PM concentrations by approximately 50-70%. Despite this reduction, the exposure concentrations remain much higher than current WHO and EPA indoor air standards. Data from observational studies of outdoor PM concentrations and chronic disease outcomes suggest that the shape of the dose-response function can vary significantly by the disease of concern.
Very few data exist to estimate the dose-response function for ALRI in low-income countries. As a result, it is unclear how well in terms of PM reduction improved stoves need to perform in order to see important reductions in risk of ALRI. Results of our main step-wedge trial are not yet available, but it is clear that a point of higher PM reduction on the dose-response curve will provide important information for stove designers and program managers in estimating the magnitude of health effects that can be attributed to stove intervention programs.
This application proposes an extension to the current trial by appending a randomized trial comparing the Envirofit stove to a LPG stove on ALRI incidence in young children. A total of 1600 of the households in the current trial who have children.
GRANT 3 - HOUSEHOLD AIR POLLUTION FROM BURNING BIOMASS: IMPLICATIONS FOR MATERNAL HEALTH AND PREGNANCY OUTCOME (NIGERIA)
Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Olusola (Sola) Olopade
Institution: University of Chicago
In Nigeria, 90 million people and 70% of the rural population uses solid fuels for household energy, exposing them to large concentrations of toxins emitted from fuel combustion. The use of biomass fuels for cooking and the subsequent exposures have been shown to be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight (weighing less than 2,500 g), stillbirth and premature delivery. Babies born pre-term (earlier than 37 weeks of gestation) and/or with low birth weight are at an increased risk for postnatal morbidity and mortality. Up to 17% of infants born in Nigerian hospitals are reported as being born with low birth weight and as many as 20% are born preterm. Despite the magnitude of the problem, there is no evidence linking exposure to smoke from biomass fuels with adverse pregnancy outcomes; and given that smoke from burning biomass for cooking produces many of the same pollutants found in tobacco smoke and ambient air, there is a good reason to expect a relationship between smoke exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes among vulnerable rural women.
In a multidisciplinary effort, we have brought together an international group of experts who will use rigorous research methodology to tackle the health challenges posed by exposure to household air pollution from biomass burning in southwest Nigeria. Although wood-fueled cookstoves have been developed that use less wood and reduce emissions of health damaging smoke, reductions of personal exposures, which are most important to improving health, are varied and remain 4 to 6 fold higher than WHO guideline limits. Nigeria, as an implementing national partner of the Global Cookstove Alliance, has launched the Clean Cookstove Alliance for Nigeria aimed at reducing adverse health effects caused by exposure to smoke from household air pollution. This policy change and commitment by the government provides a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of the use of cleaner fuel for cooking on pregnancy outcome. Project Gaia, a US-based NGO will distribute 150 ethanol stoves using bioethanol that is produced sustainably in Nigeria and has achieved reductions in personal exposures that meet suggested WHO guidelines.
The specific objectives of this study are to establish an exposure response relationship for measured pollutants (CO, PM2.5, PAH) and health outcomes for 300 pregnant women in Ibadan, Nigeria, to investigate the ability of ethanol stoves to reduce personal exposures to PM2.5, CO, and PAH, to compare exposure by stove/fuel type with health outcomes and to evaluate stove use/likability of the ethanol stoves by temperature based monitoring and compare with health outcomes. The overall hypothesis of the proposed study is that the Ethanol stove will reduce pregnant women’s exposures to PM2.5, PAH, and CO and reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes. Our long-term goal is that knowledge gained from this study will provide empiric data that can be used to expand the study population to include additional types of stoves and fuels, and influence policy that supports the scale-up and adoption of clean stoves and clean fuels such as bioethanol in the most affected and vulnerable populations.
This article is from Josh Kearns of Aqueous Solutions.
I have been playing around with a concept that might be useful to help evaluate humanitarian engineering/community development project environmental sustainability.
Most of us in the international humanitarian engineering/sustainable community development sector are professionally concerned with environmental sustainability. But most of us, myself included, do a lot of long-haul air travel for fieldwork, incurring substantial CO2 emissions. I’ve often wondered that if, in many cases, the good we do advancing sustainability in our fieldwork gets negated by the CO2 we emit getting there and back again.
I used to work as a researcher in the development of the Ecological Footprint, a sustainability accounting tool. From this I know that people in the “developing world” have much smaller Ecological Footprints than we do in the US.
So I wondered, how long would a humanitarian scientist or engineer from the US have to live at a local, developing community Ecological Footprint level in order to offset the CO2 they emitted getting out into the field?
I call this concept the “BEEF,” for “Break Even Ecological Footprint,” measured in units of time (e.g. months). The BEEF concept could be applied to international “sustainable development” and “humanitarian engineering” efforts as a metric to gauge net environmental benefit of a particular work/study trip.
The BEEF would be the minimum amount of time a scientist or engineer would have to remain in-country/community in order to have a net sustainability benefit. Any trip shorter than the BEEF would be futile from a sustainability perspective as the environmental costs of getting their would outweigh the sustainability benefits of living at a lower Ecological Footprint level relative to the US lifestyle.
Most of my fieldwork is in SE Asia (Thailand mainly). So using Ecological Footprint analysis, I calculated a BEEF for myself of 2.2-11.7 months. That’s a wide range, because it takes into account a couple of scenarios depending
- upon how closely I approximate an average Thai lifestyle, and
- whether a radiative forcing multiplier is used for CO2 emissions at high altitude.
One major take-home message, however, is that short trips (i.e. less than a month), particularly to far-flung destinations, are almost certainly futile from an environmental sustainability perspective. That’s an implication that should cause some concern, and hopefully stimulate contemplation and conversation about sustainability in the sector.
Indoor particulate matter in developing countries: a case study in Pakistan and potential intervention strategies. Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2013) 024002.
Zaheer Ahmad Nasir, et al.
Around three billion people, largely in low and middle income countries, rely on biomass fuels for their household energy needs. The combustion of these fuels generates a range of hazardous indoor air pollutants and is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Worldwide, it is responsible for four million deaths. A reduction in indoor smoke can have a signiﬁcant impact on lives and can help achieve many of the Millennium Developments Goals.
This letter presents details of a seasonal variation in particulate matter (PM)concentrations in kitchens using biomass fuels as a result of relocating the cooking space. During the summer, kitchens were moved outdoors and as a result the 24 h average PM10, PM2:5 and PM1 fell by 35%, 22% and 24% respectively. However, background concentrations of PM10 within the village increased by 62%. In locations where natural gas was the dominant fuel, the PM concentrations within the kitchen as well as outdoors were considerably lower than those in locations using biomass. These results highlights the importance of ventilation and fuel type for PM levels and suggest that an improved design of cooking spaces would result in enhanced indoor air quality
Assessing Pollution’s Effects on Infant Development | Source: Diana Austin, June 2013 |
Household air pollution (HAP) from cooking fires is a killer, causing 3.5 million deaths worldwide in 2010, including 300,000 deaths among children under 1 year of age, according to a study published in December 2012 in The Lancet.
UCSF School of Nursing faculty member Lisa Thompson knows these dangers well. As a co-investigator on the landmark RESPIRE (Randomized Exposure Study of Pollution Indoors and Respiratory Effects) study, she examined the links between exposure to HAP and acute respiratory infections in rural Guatemalan children.
She observed that infants born to mothers who had received a plancha – a special woodstove with improved ventilation – during the prenatal period had higher birthweights than those whose mothers used traditional open-fire stoves. To build on that research, Thompson, who has spent a decade investigating the effects of air pollution on babies and young children, is conducting a pilot study to test methods to examine the effects of HAP on infants’ and young children’s neurodevelopment.
“The study builds on the infrastructure that’s been there for 10 years, so we have the same location, we have the same people working for us, and we’re enrolling participants in the same communities,” says Thompson. Titled NACER (Newborns and Children Exposed to Respiratory Pollutants), after the Spanish word for “to be born,” the study is following 36 pregnant women and their infants from 16 weeks’ gestation through one year after birth, measuring both pre- and postnatal exposure to pollutants and assessing infants’ growth and neurodevelopment.
Looking at New Tools to Assess Development and Measure Exposure
As part of the study, Thompson is using a new comprehensive assessment procedure that specially trained fieldworkers can use to make a rapid assessment of infant neurodevelopment. Pediatric neurologist Naila Zaman Khan, head of the Department of Pediatric Neuroscience at Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital and academic director of Bangladesh Institute of Child Health, developed the instrument – which doesn’t require assessors to have special expertise in child development – for use in low-resource settings.
“I read about it in an article in Pediatrics and thought it was a simple tool I could use in Guatemala,” says Thompson. In June 2012, she went to Bangladesh to be trained and certified in its use.
The following month, she and Kate StormoGipson and Rebecca Kooistra, two students in the UCSF Family Nurse Practitioner Program, went to Guatemala to train two health workers to administer the assessment and to see how it worked in a rural Guatemalan setting.
“We had to adapt it so that families in our study area would accept what we were doing with the newborns,” says Thompson. “For example, Guatemala is much colder than Bangladesh, so mothers don’t like their babies to be unwrapped. We had to use space heaters and do the exams with clothed infants.” Thompson and her team validated the results against a “gold standard” neurodevelopmental assessment tool.
In addition to assessing neurodevelopment, NACER investigators are using personal monitors attached to the mothers to measure pollution exposure directly. “It’s really one of the first studies to do this [as opposed to relying on self-reporting], and to intensively look at the neonatal period and infant neurodevelopmental outcomes and see if there is any link with air pollution,” says Thompson.
Although NACER is a small pilot study, it’s already bearing fruit in the form of collaboration with other researchers investigating methods for assessing pollution exposure and its effects on health. Thompson, for example, is serving as co-investigator on a study looking at air pollution and pregnancy outcomes that will be conducted by one of her colleagues on RESPIRE, John McCracken (of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala), in hospitals and community clinics in Quetzaltenango, the second-largest city in Guatemala.
In addition, she is working with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and UC Berkeley to look at particulate matter samples captured in filters – and with researchers at UCSF’s Clinical Pharmacology Lab and Duke University environmental toxicologist Joel Meyer to study urine samples from the Guatemalan women for pollution-associated carcinogens and signs of oxidative stress.
“The hope is that we can find more efficient methods of measuring exposure to air pollution, such as urinary biomarkers,” says Thompson.
NACER will wrap up in December 2013, and Thompson hopes it will pave the way for a larger longitudinal study that would isolate the effects of air pollution exposure in utero and during the first two years of life from other factors that can affect neurocognitive development, such as malnutrition or lack of access to education. She also hopes to do a randomized stove intervention, as they did in RESPIRE, this time looking at both neonatal outcomes and neurodevelopment.
Part Fibre Toxicol. 2013 Jun 6;10(1):20.
Exposure to wood smoke increases arterial stiffness and decreases heart rate variability in humans.
Unosson J, Blomberg A, Sandström T, Muala A, Boman C, Nyström R, Westerholm R, Mills NL, Newby DE, Langrish JP, Bosson JA.
BACKGROUND: Emissions from biomass combustion are a major source of indoor and outdoor air pollution, and are estimated to cause millions of premature deaths worldwide annually. Whilst adverse respiratory health effects of biomass exposure are well established, less is known about its effects on the cardiovascular system. In this study we assessed the effect of exposure to wood smoke on heart rate, blood pressure, central arterial stiffness and heart rate variability in otherwise healthy persons.
METHODS: Fourteen healthy non-smoking subjects participated in a randomized, double-blind crossover study. Subjects were exposed to dilute wood smoke (mean particle concentration of 314+/-38 mug/m3) or filtered air for three hours during intermittent exercise. Heart rate, blood pressure, central arterial stiffness and heart rate variability were measured at baseline and for one hour post-exposure.
RESULTS: Central arterial stiffness, measured as augmentation index, augmentation pressure and pulse wave velocity, was higher after wood smoke exposure as compared to filtered air (p < 0.01 for all), and heart rate was increased (p < 0.01) although there was no effect on blood pressure. Heart rate variability (SDNN, RMSSD and pNN50; p = 0.003, p < 0.001 and p < 0.001 respectively) was decreased one hour following exposure to wood smoke compared to filtered air.
CONCLUSIONS: Acute exposure to wood smoke as a model of exposure to biomass combustion is associated with an immediate increase in central arterial stiffness and a simultaneous reduction in heart rate variability. As biomass is used for cooking and heating by a large fraction of the global population and is currently advocated as a sustainable alternative energy source, further studies are required to establish its likely impact on cardiovascular disease.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01488500.
How cooking can be a deadly chore | Source: Allie Torgan, CNN, June 13, 2013 |
(CNN) — Whether it’s a weekend barbecue or roasting marshmallows on a camping trip, cooking over an open fire is a novelty that many Americans enjoy.
But for nearly half the world’s population, building and maintaining a fire is a daily — and often deadly — chore.
In remote villages and city slums, women tend to fires for hours on end, breathing in smoke that is the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, according to the World Health Organization. Many of these women have their children close by or strapped to their chest or back, and the dangerous pollutants from the smoke can result in severe damage to their lungs as well.
Nancy Hughes witnessed this firsthand while working with a medical team in Guatemala more than a decade ago.
“There were doctors on the medical team who could not put tubes down the babies’ throats because the throats were so choked with creosote,” said Hughes, a 70-year-old grandmother who lives in Eugene, Oregon. “Imagine you’ve got a new baby and you couldn’t save that baby’s life … and it’s because of cooking.”
Inhaling this polluted air has also been linked to pneumonia, heart disease, lung cancer, low birth weight and respiratory infections, just to name a few.
Hughes spent years working with engineers to create the Ecocina, a stove that burns cleaner to make it safer for people and better for the environment. In 2008, she founded StoveTeam International, which she says has established factories that have produced more than 37,000 stoves and improved the lives of more than 280,000 people in Latin America.
Cooking shouldn’t kill,” she said.
An estimated 4 million people each year die from exposure to cookstove smoke, according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (PDF). But Hughes and her group are trying to help change that. By using a cleaner combustion process, the Ecocina stove reduces carbon emissions and particulate matter by 70%. The quick-cooking unit is also cost-efficient and portable, and it requires no installation or external chimney.
“It’s kind of a little miracle,” said Hughes, explaining that the “E” stands for environmental and “cocina” is the Spanish word for kitchen.
Hughes’ stoves also provide an economic boost to the communities where she works, because they are all built by local laborers using local materials. In the last five years, her group has helped start six factories in five countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.
“It not only employs the people in the factory, but obviously they’re buying all their supplies locally. So anything they need, they’re helping boost the local businesses,” Hughes said. “Also, some of the individuals who buy stoves are starting their own catering businesses.”
Today, 45 people are employed at the factories that her group has helped establish.
“On one of my recent visits, one of the guys came up to me and wanted to have a picture taken,” Hughes said. “He said very proudly, ‘Before I had this job, I was picking coconuts — and now I am a welder!’ ”
It’s an impressive accomplishment for Hughes, who didn’t begin working in this area until a little more than 10 years ago.
She’d spent most of her life as a stay-at-home wife and mother, but after losing her husband to cancer in 2001, Hughes was looking for a change. Her inner “travel bug” kicked in, and when she heard about a local medical team that was planning to volunteer in Guatemala, she signed up to go as a cook.
“It’s an awful situation down there,” Hughes said. “The homes are made out of whatever material is around. Sometimes they’re made out of plastic bags woven together with sticks. … Rarely do they have windows or ventilation.”
She was stunned to realize that women often spend more than 14 hours a day inside tending to an open fire, and she was horrified to see entire families suffering from chronic coughs and respiratory infections, not to mention burns.
One woman’s story was a turning point for her.
Irma, 18, had fallen into an open fire as a toddler, and her hands were literally burned shut. The medical team treated Irma and was able to restore the use of her hands, but Hughes said she knew she needed to do more.
“I thought: ‘This is crazy. So what can we do to prevent it?’ ” she said.
Hughes teamed up with rocket engineer Larry Winiarski, who created the original Ecocina design. Then she joined forces with Rotary Clubs around the world, and together they began partnering with local entrepreneurs to start factories.
Not only are the stoves improving and saving people’s lives — they are also saving forests.
In much of the world, Hughes says, a household will use 50-100 pounds of wood to cook each day. The Ecocina requires 50% less wood than a traditional open fire, and twigs and fallen branches can be used to heat the stove.
Even the stove itself is designed to be environmentally friendly.
“We wanted it made out of local materials, biodegradable materials, so if anything happened to the stove or if someone abandoned it, the materials would just go back to nature,” she said.
The stoves typically cost between $40 and $45 to make, including labor and materials, Hughes said, and they sell for $50-$60 depending on the factory site and their specific costs.
Orlando Flores Perez received a free Ecocina as part of a community grant in El Salvador. His daughter Mariella suffered from asthma so severe she was hospitalized often twice a week, but the Ecocina changed that.
Now, Mariella needs far fewer trips to the hospital and the entire family breathes easier.
“Mariella’s health has improved dramatically since we’ve had the stove,” Perez said. “The new stove has helped improve her health and the health of our family.”
Hughes is not paid for her work, and occasionally she dips into her own her savings to contribute to the project. It’s her passion — or as she calls it, her obsession.
“If anyone told me I’d be doing all this at this age, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Hughes said.
But Hughes — who plans to open new factories in Colombia and Mexico in the next year — intends to spend the rest of her life doing this work. With 3 billion people, mostly women and children, facing health risks from open fires or leaky cookstoves every day, Hughes says there are just too many who need help.
“The best part of doing it is seeing the people who benefit,” Hughes said. “Anybody can do this. You just have to have a purpose and a passion.”
Cornell University – Cook Stove Design Competition
The Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management is accepting submissions for its “Cook Stove Design Competition.” This competition seeks out-of-the-box, innovative design ideas for cook stoves targeting low-income households in emerging markets. Designers, engineers and innovators from around the world are invited to submit ideas that may shape the features and design of clean cook stoves based on kerosene or biofuels through either iterations of existing technology or entirely new designs.
Household Air Pollution in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Health Risks and Research Priorities. PLoS Med 10(6): June 2013.
Martin WJ II, Glass RI, Araj H, Balbus J, Collins FS, et al.
- Household air pollution (HAP) from solid fuel (biomass or coal) combustion is the leading environmental cause of death and disability in the world.
- Many governments, multinational companies and nongovernmental organizations are developing programs to promote access to improved stoves and clean fuels, but there is little demonstrated evidence of health benefits from most of these programs or technologies.
- A stakeholder meeting hosted by U.S. government sponsors identified research gaps and priorities related to the health effects of HAP and unsafe stoves in seven areas (cancer; infections; cardiovascular disease; maternal, neonatal, and child health; respiratory disease; burns; and ocular disorders) and gaps in four cross-cutting areas that are relevant to research on HAP (exposure and biomarker assessment, women’s empowerment, behavioral approaches, and program evaluation).
- It is vital that researchers partner with implementing organizations and governments to evaluate the impacts of improved stove and fuel programs to identify and share evidence regarding the outcomes of the many implementation programs underway, including the socio-behavioral aspects of household energy use
Energy and Human Health. Annu. Rev. Public Health 2013. 34:159–88.
Kirk R. Smith, Howard Frumkin, et al.
Energy use is central to human society and provides many health beneﬁts. But each source of energy entails some health risks. This article reviews the health impacts of each major source of energy, focusing on those with major implications for the burden of disease globally. The biggest health impacts accrue to the harvesting and burning of solid fuels, coal and biomass, mainly in the form of occupational health risks and household and general ambient air pollution.
Lack of access to clean fuels and electricity in the world’s poor households is a particularly serious risk for health. Although energy efﬁciency brings many beneﬁts, it also entails some health risks, as do renewable energy systems, if not managed carefully. We do not review health impacts of climate change itself, which are due mostly to climate-altering pollutants from energy systems, but do discuss the potential for achieving near-term health cobeneﬁts by reducing certain climate-related emissions.
Solar Cooker Review – June 2013. Solar Cookers International (SCI).
- The Urgent Need for a More Durable CooKit
- EPA Expo in DC
- Letter from the ED
- Solar Cookers in India
- Carbon Credit Funding
- SCI at the UN
- News You Send
- Solar Tech Talk
- Tribute Gifts
Chemical characterization of biomass burning deposits from cooking stoves in Bangladesh. Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 52, May 2013, Pages 122–130.
Abdus Salam, et al.
Biomass burning smoke deposits were characterized from cooking stoves in Brahmondi, Narsingdi, Bangladesh. Arjun, bamboo, coconut, madhabilata, mahogany, mango, rice husk coil, plum and mixed dried leaves were used as biomasses. Smoke deposits were collected from the ceiling (above the stove) of the kitchen on aluminum foil. Deposits samples were analyzed with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy for trace elements determination. UV–visible spectrophotometer was used for ions analysis. The surface morphology of the smoke deposits was studied with scanning electron microscope (SEM). Elevated concentrations of the trace elements were observed, especially for toxic metals (Pb, Co, Cu). The highest concentration of lead was observed in rice husk coil among the determined biomasses followed by mahogany and arjun, whereas the lowest concentration was observed in bamboo. Potassium has the highest concentration among the determined trace elements followed by calcium, iron and titanium. Trace elements such as potassium, calcium, iron showed significant variation among different biomass burning smoke deposits. The average concentrations of sulfate, nitrate, and phosphate were 38.0, 0.60, 0.73 mg kg−1, respectively. The surface morphology was almost similar for these biomass burning deposit samples. The Southeast Asian biomass burning smoke deposits had distinct behavior from European and USA wood fuels combustion.
This issue contains recent studies and resources on several types of fuels used in cookstoves: biochar, biogas, wood, charcoal, ethanol, Jatropha, kerosene, and solar energy. Some of the resources include a recent World Bank review of biomass fuels and improved cookstoves in Central America and a country and regional analysis of solid fuel use. Also included is a video by Julie Greene of Solar Cookers International that discusses how solar cookers can benefit the environment and people, especially women and girls.
3ie Evaluation – A rapid assessment randomised-controlled trial of improved cookstoves in rural Ghana
A rapid assessment randomised-controlled trial of improved cookstoves in rural Ghana, 2012.
Jason Burwen and David I. Levine. The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).
We conducted a rapid assessment randomised-controlled trial to quantify changes in fuel use, exposure to smoke and self-reported health attributable to deployment of an improved wood cookstove in the Upper West region of Ghana. Women trainers from neighbouring villages taught participants to build an improved cookstove and demonstrated optimal cooking techniques on such stoves. Participants were then randomly assigned to construct improved stoves at their homes immediately (treatments) or in a few months (controls). Several weeks after the treatments built their new stoves, all participants engaged in acooking test while wearing a carbon monoxide monitor.
At that time, we surveyed participants on cooking activity, fuel wood gathering, self-reported health and socioeconomic status. At a subset of homes, we also installed stove usage monitors on the improved and traditional stove for the following three weeks. During the cooking tests, treatments used 5 per cent less fuel wood than controls, but the difference was not statistically significant. There were no detectable reductions in a household’s weekly time gathering wood or in exposure to carbon monoxide.
In contrast, there was a sharp decline in participants’ self-reported symptoms associated with cooking, such as burning eyes, and in respiratory symptoms, such as chest pain and a runny nose. Stove usage monitors show treatments used their new stove on about half of the days monitored and reduced use of their old stoves by about 25 per cent. When we returned to three of the villages, eight months after project implementation, about half of the improved stoves showed evidence of recent usage. Overall, the new stoves were not successful, but the evaluation was. Our methods offer a rigorous modest-cost method for evaluating user uptake, field-based stove performance and exposure to smoke.
Headed by the University of Oregon’s Global Oregon and of Office of International Affairs, the Spark Initiative seeks to unite a community of parties interested in cookstoves and their implications, attract students to research and internship opportunities within cookstove businesses and nonprofit networks, and generate new partnerships between members of the Oregon University System and local experts.
Cookstoves may sound small scale and prosaic. And indeed, they are quintessentially everyday and ordinary. They are part of the daily lives of billions of people in developing regions who still cook on wood fires. Gathering wood for these fires consumes significant amounts of forest resources and time, especially on the part of women. Traditional cookstoves use up a lot of fuel, adding to deforestation pressures. They emit high levels of particulates and greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. Add up this quotidian impact, and you have a major global environmental and human resource challenge.
The inaugural Spark! cookstove event will take place on Friday, May 17 at the Erb Memorial Union and amphitheater at the University of Oregon. The half-day event will feature a keynote speech by Peter Scott of BurnDesign lab, panels by local experts and practitioners, and live stove demonstrations.
Seasonal concentrations and determinants of indoor particulate matter in a low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Environ Res. 2013 Feb;121:11-6.
Seasonal concentrations and determinants of indoor particulate matter in a low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Gurley ES, Salje H, Homaira N, Ram PK, Haque R, Petri WA Jr, Bresee J, Moss WJ, Luby SP, Breysse P, Azziz-Baumgartner E.
Centre for Communicable Diseases, International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), 68 Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Sarani, Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh. firstname.lastname@example.org
Indoor exposure to particulate matter (PM) increases the risk of acute lower respiratory tract infections, which are the leading cause of death in young children in Bangladesh. Few studies, however, have measured children’s exposures to indoor PM over time. The World Health Organization recommends that daily indoor concentrations of PM less than 2.5μm in diameter (PM(2.5)) not exceed 25μg/m(3). This study aimed to describe the seasonal variation and determinants of concentrations of indoor PM(2.5) in a low-income community in urban Dhaka, Bangladesh.
PM(2.5) was measured in homes monthly during May 2009 to April 2010. We calculated the time-weighted average, 90th percentile PM(2.5) concentrations and the daily hours PM(2.5) exceeded 100μg/m(3). Linear regression models were used to estimate the associations between fuel use, ventilation, indoor smoking, and season to each metric describing indoor PM(2.5) concentrations. Time-weighted average PM(2.5) concentrations were 190μg/m(3) (95% CI 170-210). Sixteen percent of 258 households primarily used biomass fuels for cooking and PM(2.5) concentrations in these homes had average concentrations 75μg/m(3) (95% CI 56-124) greater than other homes.
PM(2.5) concentrations were also associated with burning both biomass and kerosene, indoor smoking, and ventilation, and were more than twice as high during winter than during other seasons. Young children in this community are exposed to indoor PM(2.5) concentrations 7 times greater than those recommended by World Health Organization guidelines. Interventions to reduce biomass burning could result in a daily reduction of 75μg/m(3) (40%) in time-weighted average PM(2.5) concentrations.
Environ Health Perspect. 2013 May 3.
Solid Fuel Use for Household Cooking: Country and Regional Estimates for 1980-2010.
Bonjour S, Adair-Rohani H, Wolf J, Bruce NG, Mehta S, Prüss-Ustün A, Lahiff M, Rehfuess EA, Mishra V, Smith KR.
Department of Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
BACKGROUND: Exposure to household air pollution resulting from cooking with solid fuels in simple stoves is a major health risk. Modelling reliable estimates of solid fuel use is needed for monitoring trends and informing policy.
OBJECTIVES: We estimated annual trends in the population using solid fuels for the revision of the disease burden attributable to household air pollution for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 project, and for international reporting purposes.
METHODS: A multilevel model was developed based on national survey data on primary cooking fuel.
RESULTS: The proportion of households relying mainly on solid fuels for cooking has decreased from 62% (95% CI: 58, 66) to 41% (95% CI: 37, 44) between 1980 and 2010. Yet due to population growth, the actual number of people exposed has remained stable at around 2.8 billion during three decades. Solid fuel use is most prevalent in Africa and South East Asia where more than 60% of households cook with solid fuels. In other regions, primary solid fuel use ranges from almost 50% in the Western Pacific, to one third in Eastern Mediterranean and less than 20% in the Americas and Europe.
CONCLUSION: Multilevel modelling is a suitable technique to derive reliable solid fuel use estimates. Worldwide, the proportion of households cooking mainly with solid fuels is decreasing. The absolute number of people using solid fuels, however, is remaining steady globally and increasing in some regions. Surveys require enhancement to better capture the health implications of new technologies and multiple fuel use.
Saving & Empowering Lives through Clean Cooking Innovation | Source: Radha Muthiah, USAID Impact blog, May 11th 2013 |
A major study published in December cited high blood pressure, alcohol, and tobacco as the top three health risks in the world. Could you guess the fourth? You probably did it last night.
The seemingly simple act of cooking a meal is responsible for 4 million deaths each year.
That’s because nearly 3 billion people burn solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, coal, and other fuels to cook every day. When burned in open fires and basic stoves, solid fuels emit a harmful smoke that causes a range of cancers, heart and lung diseases, developmental and neurological impacts, cataracts, and more.
Inefficient and dangerous cooking practices are also a major cause of burns, and the acts of collecting and burning fuelwood lead to deforestation and the release of climate-changing gases, respectively.
Women and children have the primary responsibility for cooking and fuel collection in developing countries, and are therefore most at risk from the side effects: smoke inhalation, crippling burns, time lost for schooling or work, human or animal attacks during fuel collection, and myriad others.
But, you’re probably asking, how can technological innovation change such a seemingly intractable and global challenge? Enter the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
Launched by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010 with 19 founding partners under the leadership of the UN Foundation, today, the Alliance is comprised of more than 650 partners across 6 continents. They’ve joined the Alliance to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a market for clean, safe, efficient, and affordable cooking solutions. Our goal is for 100 million households to adopt clean cookstoves and fuels by the year 2020.
With our partners, including founding partner USAID, we are taking an all-of-the-above approach to ensure that as hundreds of millions of people enter the global middle class, they no longer cook as their ancestors have done since the beginning of human history:
- Research: We are commissioning research with cookstove and fuel interventions that will help us better understand how to achieve the cleanliness and efficiency markers essential to save and improve lives and the environment, and to underscore once and for all that this is a major global development challenge that deserves awareness and funding on par with similar crises.
- Standards: International standards to define cookstove cleanliness, safety, and efficiency had never existed until the Alliance and the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air began working with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The interim system that has been adopted is now in the process of being translated into permanent standards. A tiered system through the ISO will create global norms and strengthen a market for clean cooking solutions.
- Testing centers: To carry out those standards and further propel local manufacturing and testing, the Alliance is supporting the enhancement or creation of testing centers in 12 countries worldwide. Previously, most stoves had to be sent to North America or Europe to be tested, proving very costly for manufacturers and impeding local growth of markets.
- SPARK and Pilot Innovation Funds: The SPARK and the Pilot Innovation Funds are part of our plan to increase the level of resources, grants, and investment in the clean cooking sector. Each year, we will support entrepreneurs and innovation through at least $2.25 million. This year’s Pilot awardees were recently announced, and we look forward to announcing the SPARK recipients later this month.
- Input from consumers: Each of the above steps will be fruitless if we aren’t engaged in dialogue with consumers at each step along the value chain: food taste; cooking style; stove design, weight and color; manufacturing; distribution; purchasing; and adoption. The Alliance and its partners have strong relationships with community associations, women’s groups, and others to ensure we hear directly from consumers about their economic, health, and standard of living aspirations, and then translate that information into action.
The Alliance and its partners strongly believe that cooking shouldn’t kill, and because you are reading this blog during USAID’s Global Health Month+ series, I suspect that you do, too. Find out about all of our market-enabling activities and join us at www.cleancookstoves.org.
Intrauterine exposure to fine particulate matter as a risk factor for increased susceptibility to acute broncho-pulmonary infections in early childhood. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2013.
Over the last decades many epidemiologic studies considered the morbidity patterns for respiratory diseases and lung function of children in the context of ambient air pollution usually measured in the postnatal period. The main purpose of this study is to assess the impact of prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on the recurrent broncho-pulmonary infections in early childhood. In conclusion, the study suggests that prenatal exposure to PM2.5 increases susceptibility to respiratory infections and may program respiratory morbidity in early childhood. The study also provides evidence that the target value of 20g/m3 for the 24-h mean level of PM2.5 protects unborn babies better than earlier established EAP guidelines.
Environ Res. 2013 May 7. pii: S0013-9351(13)00067-4. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.03.007.
The state of scientific evidence on air pollution and human health in Nepal.
Gurung A, Bell ML. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
Air pollution has been linked to acute and chronic health effects. However, the majority of evidence is based in North America and Europe, with a growing number of studies in Asia and Latin America. Nepal is one of the many South Asian countries where little such research has been conducted. We summarized the state of scientific evidence and identify research gaps based on the existing literature on air pollution and human health in Nepal. We performed a systematic literature search to identify relevant studies. Studies were categorized as those that estimate: (1) health impacts of indoor air pollution, (2) health impacts of outdoor air pollution, (3) health burdens from outdoor air pollution in Nepal based on existing concentration-response relationships from elsewhere, or (4) exposure and air quality but do not link to health.
We identified 89 studies, of which 23 linked air pollution to health impacts. The remainder focused on exposure and air quality, demonstrating high pollution levels. The few health studies focused mainly on indoor air (n=15), especially in rural areas and during cooking. Direct exposure measurements were for short time periods; most studies used indirect exposure methods (e.g., questionnaire). Most health studies had small sample sizes with almost all focusing on respiratory health. Although few studies have examined air pollution and health in Nepal, the existing studies indicate high pollution levels and suggest large health impacts. Nepal’s dearth of scientific research on air pollution and health is not unique and likely is similar to that of many other developing regions. Future research with larger studies and more health outcomes is needed. Key challenges include data availability.
Implications of Charcoal Briquette Produced by Local Communities on Livelihoods and Environment in Nairobi Kenya
Implications of Charcoal Briquette Produced by Local Communities on Livelihoods and Environment in Nairobi Kenya
Mary Njenga, et al.
The residents of Nairobi, Kenya, use 700 tonnes of charcoal per day, producing about 88 tonnes of charcoal dust that is found in most of the charcoal retailing stalls that is disposed of in water drainage systems or in black garbage heaps. The high costs of cooking fuel results in poor households using unhealthy materials such as plastic waste. Further, poor households are opting to cook foods that take a short time to prepare irrespective of their nutritional value.
This article presents experiences with community self-help groups producing charcoal fuel briquettes from charcoal dust in poorer nieghbourhoods of Nairobi for home use and sale. Households that produced charcoal fuel briquettes for own use and those that bought them saved 70% and 30% of money spent on cooking energy respectively. The charcoal fuel briquettes have been found to be environmentally beneficial since they produce less smoke and increase total cooking energy by more than 15%, thereby saving an equivalent volume of trees that would be cut down for charcoal.
Charcoal briquette production is a viable opportunity for good quality and affordable cooking fuel. Bioenergy and waste management initiatives should promote recovery of organic by-products for charcoal briquette production.