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Indoor Pollution from Cooking Fires Kills 1.5 Million People Annually
Cleaner Fuels, Modern Stoves, Could Save Millions of Lives
More than half the world’s population—about 3 billion people—cook their meals with wood, dung, coal and other solid fuels over open fires or on primitive stoves inside their homes, and that simple act is killing 1.5 million people every year, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
Indoor Pollution Kills Millions Every Year
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7 percent of the global burden of disease, and pneumonia accounts for the deaths of two million children every year. In 2002, cooking with solid fuels was responsible for nearly 800,000 deaths among children and more than 500,000 deaths among women.
Cleaner Fuels, Modern Stoves
"Making cleaner fuels and improved stoves available to millions of poor people in developing countries will reduce child mortality and improve women's health," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General, in a press release announcing the report. "In addition to the health gains, household energy programs can help lift families out of poverty and accelerate development progress."
Low Investment for Big Health and Economic Benefits
Making improved stoves available to half of those still burning biomass fuels and coal on traditional stoves also would save $34 billion in fuel expenditures every year, and generate an annual economic return of $105 billion over a 10-year period.
About 90 percent of the costs of switching to better stoves and cleaner fuels would be borne by families that installed the new stoves, but investments in new technologies, local businesses, and micro-credit systems to help with financing also would be required to carry out the plan.
Direct Cause and Effect
"It is a travesty that 1.5 million lives a year—many of those of children whose lives have not even started—are snuffed out every year because of needless exposure to indoor smoke," said Dr Maria Neira, WHO's Director for Public Health and Environment. “We have simple, affordable solutions; let us ensure that they reach the people who can benefit from—and live by—using them.”
Read the full report: Fuel for Life: Household Energy and Health
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