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Indoor air pollution exposure from use of indoor stoves and fireplaces in association with breast cancer

17 December 2014 11:51 (America/New_York)

Indoor air pollution exposure from use of indoor stoves and fireplaces in association with breast cancer: a case-control study. Environmental Health, Dec 2014, 13:108 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-13-108.

Authors: Alexandra J White (whitea@unc.edu), Susan L Teitelbaum (susan.teitelbaum@mssm.edu), et al.

Background – Previous studies suggest that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may adversely affect breast cancer risk. Indoor air pollution from use of indoor stoves and/or fireplaces is animportant source of ambient PAH exposure. However, the association between indoor stove/fireplace use and breast cancer risk is unknown. We hypothesized that indoor stove/fireplace use in a Long Island, New York study population would be positively associated with breast cancer and differ by material burned, and the duration and timing of exposure. We also hypothesized that the association would vary by breast cancer subtype defined by p53 mutation status, and interact with glutathione S-transferases GSTM1, T1, A1and P1 polymorphisms.

Methods – Population-based, case-control resources (1,508 cases/1,556 controls) were used to conduct unconditional logistic regression to estimate adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).ResultsBreast cancer risk was increased among women reporting ever burning synthetic logs (whichmay also contain wood) in their homes (OR = 1.42, 95%CI 1.11, 1.84), but not for everburning wood alone (OR = 0.93, 95%CI 0.77, 1.12). For synthetic log use, longer duration >7years, older age at exposure (>20 years; OR = 1.65, 95%CI 1.02, 2.67) and 2 or more variantsin GSTM1, T1, A1 or P1 (OR = 1.71, 95%CI 1.09, 2.69) were associated with increased risk.

Conclusions – Burning wood or synthetic logs are both indoor PAH exposure sources; however, positive associations were only observed for burning synthetic logs, which was stronger for longer exposures, adult exposures, and those with multiple GST variant genotypes. Therefore, our results should be interpreted with care and require replication.

Facts on U.S. Support for Clean Cooking Sector, Clean Cookstoves – 21 November 2014

15 December 2014 14:23 (America/New_York)

Facts on U.S. Support for Clean Cooking Sector, Clean Cookstoves - 21 November 2014

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, D.C.
November 21, 2014

Fact Sheet

The United States’ Expanded Support to the Clean Cooking Sector and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced on Nov. 21, 2014 renewed and enhanced support by the United States for the clean cooking sector and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance).

These actions will help improve health, reduce environmental degradation, mitigate climate change, and generate economic empowerment and opportunity for women and girls.

The Alliance is a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation that aims to create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking stoves and fuels.

  • In January 2015, the Alliance will launch Phase 2 of its ten-year Strategic Business Plan.

Nearly 3 billion people have little choice but to cook over open fires or traditional stoves. The World Health Organization estimates more than 4 million people die prematurely every year because of exposure to smoke from these stoves; these exposures rank as the world’s fourth worst health risk – and the second worst for women and girls.

Cookstoves also account for more than 20 percent of global emissions of black carbon – an important short-lived pollutant that impacts near-term climate change and the health of local communities.

The United States anticipates contributing up to $200 million through 2020 towards an enhanced range of work in the clean cooking sector, including: attracting up to $25 million in financing by reducing the risk banks face in providing loans to cookstove businesses; investing $59 million in new research to build the evidence base for clean cooking interventions; and contributing $16 million towards field implementation activities.

The United States is also working to develop a guarantee financing package to mobilize an additional $100 million in private financing for the clean cooking sector.

These new contributions will help the Alliance achieve its goal of enabling 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient cooking solutions by 2020.

These contributions build on the United States’ initial five-year commitment from 2011-2015 and bring the cumulative ten-year U.S. contribution to the clean cooking sector and the Alliance up to a possible $325 million.

All projected support is subject to the availability of funds.

Department of State – up to $2.5 million

• The Department of State will continue to utilize its diplomatic outreach to support Alliance efforts both globally and in the Alliance’s focus countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The Department is also investing up to $2.5 million to: 1) scale adoption of household energy products by increasing the number of women entrepreneurs who are able to effectively and efficiently distribute these products, and 2) identify innovative financing options to support the deployment of cooking stoves with climate benefits, in the context of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – up to $135 million

• USAID – through two of its Development Credit Authority loan guarantee vehicles, and in partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) – will mobilize up to $125 million in new private financing for manufacturers and distributors of clean cookstoves and cooking fuel. More specifically, USAID and SIDA are:

– Launching a $100 million credit facility, in partnership with three international financial institutions, to support the proliferation of household technology products. This facility may attract $25 million in new private lending that will enable clean stove and fuel enterprises to expand their product lines, increase production, and reach new markets.

– Working on developing, in partnership with anchor financial partners and institutional investors, a guarantee financing package dedicated to mobilizing an additional $100 million in private financing for manufacturers and distributors of clean stoves and fuels.

• USAID will contribute $10 million to support market development and engage private-sector participation to help scale adoption of stoves and fuels that meet household energy needs and release fewer pollutants. The goal of these efforts is to improve health, reduce environmental degradation, mitigate climate change, foster economic growth, and empower women.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – $21.6 million

• For the 2015-2020 period, EPA plans to invest $15 million to continue its leadership and research towards achieving the environmental and health benefits of clean and efficient cooking, with a focus on: laboratory and field evaluation of cookstoves and fuels; developing international standards; and health, climate, and air quality research on the impacts of clean cooking. In addition, EPA has expanded its original five-year commitment by $6.6 million, primarily to research cleaner technologies and fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating homes.

Department of Health and Human Services

• National Institutes of Health (NIH) – $34.4 million

– NIH plans to invest $30 million to support health research and training to improve the health and lives of those at risk from household burning of solid fuels. NIH also expanded its original five-year commitment (2010-2015) by $4.4 million. These investments include health evaluations of stove rollout programs, study of stove adoption behavior, enhancing exposure science, development of biomarkers, and stove interventional trials. Up to one half of these grants and projects will be supported through targeted programs.

– Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – $6.5 million

• CDC plans to invest $6.5 million towards evaluating cookstove programs to better understand their public health benefits and key determinants of adoption, and to provide scientific validation of the health benefits of clean and safe cooking. CDC will focus its investment on efforts that support bringing clean and safe cooking solutions to scale.

Additional Federal Agencies Providing Support:

• The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is renewing its original commitment of up to $50 million in debt financing or insurance that meets their credit and lending standards to support businesses that manufacture, sell, or purchase clean cooking stoves and fuels.

• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will continue its work with scientists in other countries to monitor and assess the global climate impacts of black carbon emissions and to assess the potential climate benefits of switching to clean cookstoves.

• The Peace Corps will ensure that its cookstove programs – training community members in construction and maintenance, providing ongoing support in sustaining their use, and helping families and others access needed financing – are closely aligned with Alliance strategy.

 

Alliance Spark Fund III – January 30th 2015 deadline

15 December 2014 14:16 (America/New_York)

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves seeks to create a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels, with the goal to enable 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cooking technologies by 2020. The Spark Fund provides investment-like growth capital and capacity development support to help enterprises reach commercial viability, scale, and ultimately unlock additional investments for future growth.

The Spark Fund targets the specific capital and capacity development needs of social enterprises that have passed proof-of-concept, are at the venture or growth stage, and are focused on the commercial up-scaling of their operations. As such, enterprises supported by Spark will be:

1) Market-based, commercially viable enterprises

2) Venture or growth stage ventures that are generating income and are not yet mature enough to access growth capital from traditional investment sources

3) Scalable enterprises with the potential to make a significant contribution to the Alliance’s goal of enabling 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cooking technologies and fuels by 2020

The Spark Fund III will be accepting applications between from November 17th 2014 to January 30th 2015, 6:00pm EST. Finalists will be notified by March 1st 2015 and after completion of in-depth due diligence and panel judging, up to 6 qualifying enterprises will be selected to receive funding by June 1st 2015.

NANO-AETHALOMETER: Understanding Biomass Cooking Behaviors

15 December 2014 14:09 (America/New_York)

NANO-AETHALOMETER: Understanding Biomass Cooking Behaviors, 2014.

Julien Caubel, Daniel Wilson. Center for Effective Global Action.

Research Purpose – Measure geographic distribution of BC to monitor where and how biomass is burned, and understand the resulting impacts on human health and environment.

  • Current technologies are too expensive, cumbersome or unreliable at measuring BC
  • Need for a low-cost, compact instrument that can be deployed both on the ground and in the air to accurately and directly measure BC distributions on large scale

Project Summary - Lightweight, compact BC sensor built and tested.Measurement performance is comparable to costlycommercial instruments.

  • Balloon launched successfully in India with satellitebasedglobal telemetry and communications system
  • The Nano-Aethalometer will be deployed both on theground and in the air around rural communities inIndia to monitor biomass cookstove user trends andbehaviors
  • Ultimately, this data and information will enable moreeffective reductions of the health and environmentalimpacts associated with biomass cookstoves in thedeveloping world

Berkeley University – Selling Sustainability: Delivering Cookstoves Is Easier than Convincing People to Use Them

11 December 2014 10:06 (America/New_York)

Selling Sustainability: Delivering Cookstoves Is Easier than Convincing People to Use Them. California Magazine, Fall 2014.

An excerpt – David I. Levine is an unusual kind of salesman. The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business professor’s products are good: cost-effective, ecofriendly water filters and cookstoves. But Levine found that where his products were most needed—in Uganda, Bangladesh, and Kenya—people weren’t buying.

“The biggest mystery is cookstoves,” says Levine. Traditional biomass cookstoves kill more than 4 million people a year due to various illnesses associated with indoor air pollution, including 1 million children under the age of 5 due to pneumonia, according to the World Health Organization. Such stoves also contribute to deforestation and global climate change. Improved cookstoves, which cost around $10, use half the fuel, stay hot longer, and emit less smoke. For many, this switch would be an easy sell; but for impoverished households, that was not the case.

“All these health benefits are very uncertain,” Levine says. “They’re in the distant future.” It’s hard for people to accept that their stoves are causing deaths. What’s more, Levine says, long-term environmental effects are marginal problems for families who don’t have savings, bank accounts, or even locks on their doors.

After several iterations, Levine devised a successful payment plan for these cookstoves. Households were given a free trial followed by a rent-to-own plan in which they would pay for the cookstove mostly out of fuel savings. Throw in a return policy, and Levine saw a significant increase in sales.

The strategy worked because “you don’t have to worry about whether people believe the doctors, or how people think about the hazards to a child’s health,” he says. “It comes down to money.”

But Levine’s approach turned up a new obstacle: Many customers do not trust vendors, regardless of free trials. Furthermore, vendors are hesitant to give credit to customers—despite the fact that in his pilot program, Levine received more than 97 percent of scheduled payments in Uganda. He is now testing mobile payments and layaway options to overcome this challenge.

 

 

World Bank – Turn Down Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal

11 December 2014 10:01 (America/New_York)

Turn Down Heat, Confronting the New Climate Normal: Executive Summary, 2014. World Bank.

The benefits of strong, early action on climate change, action that follows clean, low carbon pathways and avoids locking in unsustainable growth strategies, far outweigh the costs. Many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming to below 2°C. But, the time to act is now. The data show that dramatic climate changes, heat and weather extremes are already impacting people, damaging crops and coastlines and putting food, water, and energy security at risk. Across the three regions studied in this report, record-breaking temperatures are occurring more frequently, rainfall has increased in intensity in some places, while drought-prone regions are getting dryer. In an overview of social vulnerability, the poor and underprivileged, as well as the elderly and children, are found to be often hit the hardest. There is growing evidence, that even with very ambitious mitigation action, warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century is already locked-in to the Earth’s atmospheric system and climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable.1 If the planet continues warming to 4°C, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the new climate normal—a world of increased risks and instability. T

Female Labor Force Participation and Household Dependence on Biomass Energy: Evidence from National Longitudinal Data

11 December 2014 9:55 (America/New_York)

Female Labor Force Participation and Household Dependence on Biomass Energy: Evidence from National Longitudinal Data. World Development
Volume 67, March 2015, Pages 424–437

Authors: Paul J. Burke, Guy Dundas

Highlights

  • We examine drivers of household biomass energy use using national longitudinal data.
  • Our dataset covers up to 175 countries during the period 1990–2010.
  • Female labor force involvement is associated with less household biomass energy use.
  • The opportunity cost of women’s time appears to influence household energy choices.
  • Our results on the role of income are consistent with the fuel stacking model.

Summary – Air pollution from household biomass combustion is an important cause of poor health in developing countries. This study employs national-level longitudinal data for up to 175 countries during 1990–2010 and finds that female labor force participation is associated with reductions in household biomass energy use. Consistent with the “fuel stacking” model, higher incomes are linked to use of other types of energy by households, but not significantly associated with reductions in use of biomass energy. The results highlight the multifaceted nature of household energy transitions and suggest an avenue by which female empowerment can lead to improved health outcomes.

Voice of America – Making Cooking Stoves Safer Worldwide

11 December 2014 9:52 (America/New_York)

Voice of America – Making Cooking Stoves Safer Worldwide, December 11, 2014

Smoky cook fires are a leading cause of indoor airpollution - poor air quality inside buildings. Indoor airpollution kills more than four million people each year. The problem is bigger than malaria, tuberculosis orHIV, the virus that causes the disease AIDS.

Recently, people concerned about the issue met fortwo days of discussions in New York City. Their hopewas to persuade private industry to build and sell betterstoves.

Traditional open-fire cooking affects the health of bothhuman beings and the world’s environment. Collectingwood for cooking fires is one of the main causes ofdeforestation. And the gases and soot that comefrom the fires pollute the air. They also are partlyresponsible for rising temperatures.

At the meeting, former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonnoted that almost three billion people use traditional stoves for heating andcooking. Because of their widespread use, she said, indoor air pollution is aninternational problem.

“But it also, if approached correctly, could be an economic opportunity. And that is the idea behind the alliance.”

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves supports companies that make andsell affordable, efficient and less-polluting cookers. The alliance alsosupports research into developing better stoves.

Ms. Clinton helped launch the group in 2010. At the meeting, the United Statespromised $200 million in financial support and research money. Butorganizers wanted to raise $500 million.

Radha Muthiah is the executive director of the alliance. She says four yearsafter the group was launched, 20 million more households are using cleancookstoves.

“We’ve proven that this market-based approach works. Twenty millionstoves later, we know that this is a recipe that can be scaled up.”

Jim Jetter works as a researcher for the United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency. He says it is not easy to build a low-cost device thatpeople will use.

“It’s a big technical challenge to make a cookstove that has low emissions ofair pollutants, that is fuel efficient, and that is low-cost so that people canafford it — and, most importantly, that it meets the user needs. If it doesn’tmeet the user’s needs, then people do not use the stoves and, and then thereare no benefits.”

 

Indoor Air Pollution From Burning Yak Dung as a Household Fuel in Tibet

4 December 2014 14:58 (America/New_York)

Indoor Air Pollution From Burning Yak Dung as a Household Fuel in Tibet. Atmospheric Environment, Nov 2014.

Authors: Qingyang Xiao, Eri Saikawa, , Robert J. Yokelson, Pengfei Chen, Chaoliu Li, Shichang Kang

Highlights
• Real-time BC and PM2.5 concentrations were measured in households in Nam Co, Tibet.
• 23 households were surveyed on energy use and awareness of indoor air pollution.
• Chimney installation may not by itself ensure adequate indoor air quality.
• We observed a lower BC/PM2.5 ratio for dung combustion than previous estimates.
• About 0.4-1.7 Gg/year of additional BC is emitted by yak dung combustion in Tibet.

Yak dung is widely used for cooking and heating in Tibet. We measured real-time concentrations of black carbon (BC) and fine particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) emitted by yak dung burning in six households with different living conditions and stove types in the Nam Co region, Tibet. We observed a much lower average BC/PM2.5 mass ratio (0.013, range 0.006 to 0.028) from dung combustion in this area than previously reported estimates, ranging between 0.05 and 0.11. Based on our measurements, estimated fuel use, and published emission factors of BC and PM2.5, about 0.4-1.7 Gg/year of BC is emitted by yak dung combustion in Tibet in addition to the previously estimated 0.70 Gg/year of BC for Tibetan residential sources.

Our survey shows that most residents were aware of adverse health impacts of indoor yak dung combustion and approximately 2/3 of residents had already installed chimney stoves to mitigate indoor air pollution. However, our measurements reveal that, without adequate ventilation, installing a chimney may not ensure good indoor air quality. For instance, the 6-h average BC and PM2.5concentrations in a stone house using a chimney stove were 24.5 and 873 μg/m3, respectively. We also observed a change in the BC/PM2.5 ratios before and after a snow event. The impact of dung moisture content on combustion efficiency and pollutant emissions needs further investigation.

 

Sustained use of biogas fuel and blood pressure among women in rural Nepal

4 December 2014 14:39 (America/New_York)

Sustained use of biogas fuel and blood pressure among women in rural Nepal. Environmental Research, Volume 136, January 2015, Pages 343–351.

Authors: Maniraj Neupane, Buddha Basnyat, Rainald Fischer, Guenter Froeschl, Marcel Wolbers, Eva A Rehfuess

Highlights
• We study the impact of sustained use of biogas fuel on blood pressure among females.
• Use of biogas is associated with lower SBP and DBP in cooks >50 years.
• Use of biogas is associated with 68% reduced odds of developing high blood pressure in cooks >50 years.
• Effect of biogas use on blood pressure seems to be age dependent.

Background – More than two fifths of the world’s population cook with solid fuels and are exposed to household air pollution (HAP). As of now, no studies have assessed whether switching to alternative fuels like biogas could impact cardiovascular health among cooks previously exposed to solid fuel use.

Methods – We conducted a propensity score matched cross-sectional study to explore if the sustained use of biogas fuel for at least ten years impacts blood pressure among adult female cooks of rural Nepal. We recruited one primary cook ≥30 years of age from each biogas (219 cooks) and firewood (300 cooks) using household and measured their systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Household characteristics, kitchen ventilation and 24-h kitchen carbon monoxide were assessed. We matched cooks by age, body mass index and socio-economic status score using propensity scores and investigated the effect of biogas use through multivariate regression models in two age groups, 30–50 years and >50 years to account for any post-menopausal changes.

Results – We found substantially reduced 24-h kitchen carbon monoxide levels among biogas-using households. After matching and adjustment for smoking, kitchen characteristics, ventilation status and additional fuel use, the use of biogas was associated with 9.8 mmHg lower SBP [95% confidence interval (CI), −20.4 to 0.8] and 6.5 mmHg lower DBP (95% CI, −12.2 to −0.8) compared to firewood users among women >50 years of age. In this age group, biogas use was also associated with 68% reduced odds [Odds ratio 0.32 (95% CI, 0.14–0.71)] of developing hypertension. These effects, however, were not identified in younger women aged 30–50 years.

Conclusions – Sustained use of biogas for cooking may protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering the risk of high blood pressure, especially DBP, among older female cooks. These findings need to be confirmed in longitudinal or experimental studies.

Keywords

Patterns of Stove Usage after Introduction of an Advanced Cookstove: The Long-Term Application of Household Sensors

4 December 2014 12:57 (America/New_York)

Patterns of Stove Usage after Introduction of an Advanced Cookstove: The Long-Term Application of Household Sensors. Env Sci Technol, Dec 2014.

Authors: Ajay Pillarisetti,*,† Mayur Vaswani,‡ Darby Jack,§ Kalpana Balakrishnan,∥ Michael N. Bates,†
Narendra K. Arora,‡ and Kirk R. Smith†
† Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720,
United States
‡ The INCLEN Trust International, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110020, India
§ Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
10032, United States
∥ Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai-600116, India

Household air pollution generated from solid fuel use for cooking is one of the leading risk factors for ill health globally. Deployment of advanced cookstoves to reduce emissions has been a major focus of intervention efforts.However, household usage of these stoves and resulting changes in usage of traditional polluting stoves is not well characterized. In Palwal District, Haryana, India, we carried out an intervention utilizing the Philips HD4012 fan-assisted stove,one of the cleanest biomass stoves available. We placed small,unobtrusive data-logging iButton thermometers on both the traditional and Philips stoves to collect continuous data on use patterns in 200 homes over 60 weeks. Intervention stove usage declined steadily over time and stabilized after approximately 200 days; use of the traditional stove remained relatively constant. We additionally evaluated how well short-duration usage measures predicted long-term use. Measuring usage over time of both traditional and intervention stoves provides better understanding of cooking behaviors and can lead to more precise quantification of potential exposure reductions and consequent health benefits attributable to interventions.

 

Assessing Exposures to Household Air Pollution in Public Health Research and Program Evaluation.

26 November 2014 11:39 (America/New_York)

Assessing Exposures to Household Air Pollution in Public Health Research and Program Evaluation. Ecohealth. 2014 Nov 8.

Authors: Northcross AL1, Hwang N, Balakrishnan K, Mehta S.
Author information
1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, 950 New Hampshire Ave 7th Floor, 20057, Washington, DC, USA, northcross@gwu.edu.

Exposure to smoke from the use of solid fuels and inefficient stoves for cooking and heating is responsible for approximately 4 million premature deaths yearly. As increasing investments are made to tackle this important public health issue, there is a need for identifying and providing guidance on best practices for exposure and stove performance monitoring, particularly for public health research and evaluation studies.

This paper, which builds upon the discussion at an expert consultation on exposure assessment convened by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and PATH in late 2012, aims to provide general guidance on what to monitor, who and where to monitor, and how to monitor household air pollution exposures. In addition, we summarize information about commercially available monitoring equipment and the technical properties of these monitors most important for household air pollution exposure assessment. The target audience includes epidemiologists conducting health studies and program evaluators aiming to quantify changes in exposures to estimate the potential health benefits of cookstoves intervention projects.

SAFE – Safe Access to Fuel and Energy

26 November 2014 11:35 (America/New_York)

Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) is a cross-sectoral issue that focuses on ensuring access to fuel and energy for cooking, heating, lighting, and powering for crisis-affected populations.

More than a third of the world’s population relies on traditional fuels—wood, coal, animal dung, and agricultural waste—for their energy needs, including cooking their meals, heating their homes, and lighting their communities. The challenges they face in accessing clean energy are numerous, often dangerous, and incredibly unsustainable, particularly during complex emergencies and protracted crises.

Safe and sustainable access to energy is being increasingly recognized as a human right—essential for the safety, well-being, and productivity of the people the humanitarian community serves. It is also essential for social and economic development, offering opportunities for improved lives and economic progress.

Associations of Respiratory Symptoms and Lung Function with Measured Carbon Monoxide Concentrations among Nonsmoking Women Exposed to Household Air Pollution: The RESPIRE Trial, Guatemala

26 November 2014 11:32 (America/New_York)

Associations of Respiratory Symptoms and Lung Function with Measured Carbon Monoxide Concentrations among Nonsmoking Women Exposed to Household Air Pollution: The RESPIRE Trial, Guatemala. Environ Health Perspect, Nov 2014.

Authors: Daniel Pope, Esperanza Diaz, et al.

Background: With 40% of the World’s population relying on solid fuel, household air pollution (HAP) represents a major preventable risk factor for COPD. Meta-analyses have confirmed this relationship, however constituent studies are observational with virtually none measuring exposure directly.

Objectives: We estimated associations between HAP exposure and respiratory symptoms and lung function in young, non-smoking women in rural Guatemala, using measured CO concentrations in exhaled breath and personal air to assess exposure.

Methods: The Randomised Exposure Study of Pollution Indoors and Respiratory Effects (RESPIRE) Guatemala study was a trial comparing respiratory outcomes among 504 women using improved chimney stoves versus traditional cookstoves. The present analysis included 456 women with data from post-intervention surveys including 6-monthly interviews (respiratory symptoms), spirometry and CO (ppm) in exhaled breath measurements. Personal CO was measured using passive diffusion tubes at variable times during the study. Associations between CO concentrations and respiratory health were estimated using random intercept regression models.

Results: Respiratory symptoms (cough, phlegm, wheeze or chest tightness) during the previous six months were positively associated with breath CO measured at the same time of symptom reporting and with average personal CO concentrations during the follow-up period. CO in exhaled breath at the same time as spirometry was associated with lower lung function [average reduction in FEV1 (in mL) for a 10% increase in CO was 3.33 mL (95% CI: -0.86, -5.81)]. Lung function measures were not significantly associated with average post-intervention personal CO concentrations.

Conclusions: Our results provide further support for the effects of HAP exposures on airway inflammation. Further longitudinal research modelling continuous exposure to particulate matter against lung function will help understand more fully the impact of HAP on COPD.

The effect of exposure to biomass smoke on respiratory symptoms in adult rural and urban Nepalese populations

26 November 2014 11:27 (America/New_York)

The effect of exposure to biomass smoke on respiratory symptoms in adult rural and urban Nepalese populations. Environmental Health, Nov 2014.

Authors: Om P Kurmi, Sean Semple, et al.

Background – Half of the world’s population is exposed to household air pollution from biomass burning. This study aimed to assess the relationship between respiratory symptoms and biomass smoke exposure in rural and urban Nepal.

Methods – A cross-sectional study of adults (16+ years) in a rural population (n = 846) exposed to biomass smoke and a non-exposed urban population (n = 802) in Nepal. A validated questionnaire was used along with measures of indoor air quality (PM2.5 and CO) and outdoor PM2.5.

Results – Both men and women exposed to biomass smoke reported more respiratory symptoms compared to those exposed to clean fuel. Women exposed to biomass were more likely to complain of ever wheeze (32.0 % vs. 23.5%; p = 0.004) and breathlessness (17.8% vs. 12.0%, p = 0.017) compared to males with tobacco smoking being a major risk factor. Chronic cough was similar in both the biomass and non-biomass smoke exposed groups whereas chronic phlegm was reported less frequently by participants exposed to biomass smoke. Higher PM2.5 levels (≥2 SDs of the 24-hour mean) were associated with breathlessness (OR = 2.10, 95% CI 1.47, 2.99) and wheeze (1.76, 1.37, 2.26).

Conclusions – The study suggests that while those exposed to biomass smoke had higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms, urban dwellers (who were exposed to higher ambient air pollution) were more at risk of having productive cough.

Can Currently Available Advanced Combustion Biomass Cook-Stoves Provide Health Relevant Exposure Reductions? Results from Initial Assessment of Select Commercial Models in India

26 November 2014 11:23 (America/New_York)

Can Currently Available Advanced Combustion Biomass Cook-Stoves Provide Health Relevant Exposure Reductions? Results from Initial Assessment of Select Commercial Models in India. Ecohealth. 2014 Oct 8.

Authors:Sambandam S1, Balakrishnan K, Ghosh S, Sadasivam A, Madhav S, Ramasamy R, Samanta M, Mukhopadhyay K, Rehman H, Ramanathan V.
Author information
1World Health Organisation Collaborating Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Sri Ramachandra University, No.1, Ramachandra Nagar, Porur, Chennai, 600116, India, sankars@ehe.org.in.

Household air pollution from use of solid fuels is a major contributor to the national burden of disease in India. Currently available models of advanced combustion biomass cook-stoves (ACS) report significantly higher efficiencies and lower emissions in the laboratory when compared to traditional cook-stoves, but relatively little is known about household level exposure reductions, achieved under routine conditions of use. We report results from initial field assessments of six commercial ACS models from the states of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh in India. We monitored 72 households (divided into six arms to each receive an ACS model) for 24-h kitchen area concentrations of PM2.5 and CO before and (1-6 months) after installation of the new stove together with detailed information on fixed and time-varying household characteristics. Detailed surveys collected information on user perceptions regarding acceptability for routine use.

While the median percent reductions in 24-h PM2.5 and CO concentrations ranged from 2 to 71% and 10-66%, respectively, concentrations consistently exceeded WHO air quality guideline values across all models raising questions regarding the health relevance of such reductions. Most models were perceived to be sub-optimally designed for routine use often resulting in inappropriate and inadequate levels of use. Household concentration reductions also run the risk of being compromised by high ambient backgrounds from community level solid-fuel use and contributions from surrounding fossil fuel sources. Results indicate that achieving health relevant exposure reductions in solid-fuel using households will require integration of emissions reductions with ease of use and adoption at community scale, in cook-stove technologies. Imminent efforts are also needed to accelerate the progress towards cleaner fuels.

Patterns of stove usage after introduction of an advanced cookstove: the long-term application of household sensors.

26 November 2014 11:18 (America/New_York)

Patterns of stove usage after introduction of an advanced cookstove: the long-term application of household sensors. Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Nov 12.

Authors: Pillarisetti A, Vaswani M, Jack D, Balakrishnan K, Bates MN, Arora NK, Smith KR.

Household air pollution generated from solid fuel use for cooking is one of the leading risk factors for ill-health globally. Deployment of advanced cookstoves to reduce emissions has been a major focus of intervention efforts. However, household usage of these stoves and resulting changes in usage of traditional polluting stoves is not well characterized. In Palwal District, Haryana, India, we carried out an intervention utilizing the Philips HD4012 fan-assisted stove, one of the cleanest biomass stoves available. We placed small, unobtrusive data-logging iButton thermometers on both the traditional and Philips stoves to collect continuous data on use patterns in 200 homes over 60 weeks.

Intervention stove usage declined steadily over time and stabilized after approximately 200; use of the traditional stove remained relatively constant. We additionally evaluated how well short-duration usage measures predicted long-term use. Measuring usage over time of both traditional and intervention stoves provides better understanding of cooking behaviors and can lead to more precise quantification of potential exposure reductions and consequent health benefits attributable to interventions.

WHO – Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion

26 November 2014 11:14 (America/New_York)

Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion, 2014.

These new indoor air quality guidelines for household fuel combustion aim to help public health policy-makers, as well as specialists working on energy, environmental and other issues understand best approaches to reducing household air pollution — the greatest environmental health risk in the world today.

Recommendations, general to specific

  • The recommendations include general considerations for policy, a set of four specific recommendations, and a best-practice recommendation addressing linked health and climate impacts.
  • Among the general considerations, or overarching advice, is that policies should promote community-wide action, and that the safety of new fuels and technologies must be assessed rather than assumed.

Report from Dan Sweeney on the ISO Clean Cooking Solutions Meeting in Guatemala

10 November 2014 11:22 (America/New_York)

Dan Sweeney is a D-Lab Biomass Fuel Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  His blog post below was originally published on October 30, 2014 on the MIT D-Lab blog. Read about other events on D-Lab News.

D-Lab’s Dan Sweeney attends ISO Clean Cooking Solutions Meeting in Guatemala

Last week, I returned from a nine-day visit to Antigua, Guatemala. Working with D-Lab partner organization Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom), I performed field tests on a couple of their improved, wood-fired cookstoves. And, I participated in a meeting of the working and task groups for the International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Committee on Clean Cooking Solutions. For my blog about cookstove testing on this trip read here.

Dan Sweeney & Mara River (Fundacion Solar) during an ISO Fuels task group meeting.

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves connection

So you may be asking “how the heck did Dan get wrapped up in all of this?” Many of you may be familiar with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (aka The Alliance, cleancookstoves.org), a public-private partnership at the UN Foundation, initiated by Hillary Clinton to bring awareness to the three billion people worldwide who use biomass to meet their household energy needs through advocacy, funding opportunities and other efforts to scale improved cooking technologies. The Harvest Fuel Initiative (HFI), which I focus most of my efforts on at D-Lab, is a member of the Alliance and over the past couple of months we have become a greater voice in Alliance conversations about cooking fuels which recognize improved fuels as a needed innovation in improved cooking (the Alliance recently hired a fuels technical expert, Seema Patel, who is one of my new best friends).

International Standards OrganizationTechnical Committee on Clean Cooking Solutions

The Alliance has also convened experts from various backgrounds and locations, ISO Technical Committee 285 (TC285), tasked with producing a globally recognized ISO standard for “Improved Cooking Solutions” – in short, a comprehensive, globally adopted guide for evaluating, rating, certifying and measuring impacts from cooking technology. The challenge is that cooking practices and technology are different everywhere and stakeholders have a wide variety of opinions about what is important when evaluating a cookstove- should tests be performed in a controlled-laboratory environment (like D-Lab’s stove lab), or should tests be performed in the field during actual use conditions? And what tests should be required by the standard so as to sufficiently measure important aspects of the technology (e.g. fuel efficiency, emissions, pollutant exposure, durability, safety) but not be prohibitively expensive for stove manufacturers who may not be able to afford an expensive lab or field test campaign.

These are a few of the issues, among many more that TC285 is trying to tackle through a consensus based process over the next couple of years. Last week’s meeting in Antigua marked the start of the nitty-gritty work. The four TC285 working groups (Conceptual Framework, Harmonized Laboratory Protocols, Field Testing, Social Impacts) and two task groups (Communications, Fuels) met during several sessions to hash out scopes, work plans, write tables of contents and delegate responsibilities.

Creating international standards

For me, it was a crash course in international standards, an opportunity to represent D-Lab’s fuels research and the partners that we work with in the field, and a chance to meet a lot of folks who have paved the way in improved cooking tech.

Creating standards is a lot of work, especially for a product that is so varied in type and use, in many locations, potentially by large numbers of people. Navigating to a consensus decision seems impossible, but attending this meeting gave me some hope for the process. Drafting sections, editing and revising will be a long, ongoing process for the next couple of years, but the people involved are very passionate about seeing it get done.

I was encouraged to be involved in the Fuels Task Group, assisting group convener Marcelo Gorritty (UMSA, Bolivia). The Fuels Task group will provide guidance to other working group’s on fuels related issues, and perform a review and gap analysis of existing relevant fuels standards. I am also a member of the Lab and Field Testing Working Groups.

Introducing the Harvest Fuel Initiative to the Group

Attendees were particularly interested in the unique approach that HFI is taking in engaging directly with producers to scale alternative fuels, and also with our capacity building and design summit work. For example, there was interest in applying some of D-Lab and HFI’s design methodologies to cooking technology, such as a design summit focused on improved cooking tech and working with refugee communities to produce clean fuels.

Tour: San Antonio Aguas Calientes, cookstove factory

During our last day, some of us spent a few hours visiting San Antonio Aguas Calientes where social entrepreneur Marco Tulio runs Eco Comal, an impressive factory operation where he builds a several models of improved wood-fired cookstoves including steel-top planchas, and rocket stoves. I was particularly impressed with Marco’s intricately designed cast masonry stove internals produced from local materials, on-site, and to relatively tight tolerances.

And a . . . talent show

It was great to meet and work with some notable “stovers” like Dean Still (Aprovecho) and Tami Bond (Universithy of Illinois). In the evening following our last round of working group meetings, we kept with tradition by having a talent show where attendees performed, among others, solo flamenco guitar, traditional Rwandan dance and song, and a Nepali trekking song.

Read Dan’s Blog on Cookstove Field Tests in Guatemala.

For more information, contact Dan Sweeney.


Viewpoint – Making the clean available: Escaping India’s Chulha Trap

6 November 2014 11:40 (America/New_York)

Viewpoint – Making the clean available: Escaping India’s Chulha TrapEnergy Policy, October 2014

Authors: Kirk R. Smith, Ambuj Sager

Highlights

  • Pollution from cooking with solid fuels is largest health hazard for Indian women and girls.
  • 700 million Indians are caught in a trap using solid fuels with little change in number exposed for decades.
  • Efforts to make the biomass fuel clean through advanced stoves have made only modest progress in decades.•A major new effort is needed to make the clean available, in the form of gas and electricity.
  • This will require forging new partnerships and rethinking how these fuels are currently promoted.

Solid cookfuel pollution is the largest energy-related health risk globally and most important cause of ill-health for Indian women and girls. At 700 million cooking with open biomass chulhas, the Indian population exposed has not changed in several decades, in spite of hundreds of programs to make the “available clean”, i.e. to burn biomass cleanly in advanced stoves. While such efforts continue, there is need to open up another front to attack this health hazard. Gas and electric cooking, which are clean at the household, are already the choice for one-third of Indians. Needed is a new agenda to make the “clean available”, i.e., to vigorously extend these clean fuels into populations that are caught in the Chulha Trap. This will require engaging new actors including the power and petroleum ministries as well as the ministry of health, which have not to date been directly engaged in addressing this problem. It will have implications for LPG imports, distribution networks, and electric and gas user technologies, as well as setting new priorities for electrification and biofuels, but at heart needs to be addressed as a health problem, not one of energy access, if it is to be solved effectively.

 

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