Indoor Air Pollution: The Silent Killer in the Kitchen

Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution is often referred to asĀ “the killer in the kitchen.” TheĀ World Health OrganizationĀ (WHO) estimates that 4.3 million people, mostly women and children, die each year from the effects of this pollution, and millions more are chronically sickened. This toxic pollution is caused by billions of people cooking their meals indoors, over open fires.

Worldwide, more than 3 billion people still rely on biomass fuels (wood, dung, and agricultural wastes) for their daily cooking and energy needs. Cooking with wood over an open fire fills kitchens with smoke; smoke that contains dangerous levels of particulates and carbon monoxide. This heavy exposure has been likened to smoking five packs of cigarettes a day. Breathing the toxic smoke from open cooking fires can lead to acute respiratory illness, pneumonia, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Women and children are most seriously affected, as they are the family members who spend the most time in the kitchen.

To address this problem, we buildĀ clean cookstoves that are designed to use far less wood and emit up to 80% less IAP than a traditional open fire. Our cookstoves are designed to be built locally, using local materials and labor. This approach reduces deadly smoke in the home while also stimulating local economies.

clean cookstove Guatemala
International Director Sebastian Africano (right) visits with a family who has a clean cookstove built into their kitchen.

Conservation can, and should, create a bright future for all. Join us in our effort to reduce toxins and pollution in the kitchen. Visit our website to learn more about our clean cookstoves and how you can become a supporter of this important program!

Community Voices: Hilda Garcia

For over 10 years, DoƱa Hilda Garcia has been an integral part of our conservation efforts in El Salvador. Here, she shares her story about howĀ she became involved with our work. Thank you, Hilda, for your dedication to the environment and people of El Salvador!

DoƱa Hilda in our tree nursery in El Porvenir, El Salvador.
DoƱa Hilda in one of our tree nurseries in El Porvenir, El Salvador.

I used to suffer from the smoke of an open cooking fire. A friend told me about TWP’s clean cookstove program, and I jumped at the chance to participate, even though my husband was out of town so I didn’t know if he would approve. I built my stove with Larry Winiarski [inventor of the Rocket stove] and we made tortillas on it the same day! When my husband returned from his trip and saw the Justa stove, I told him all about it and was relieved that he supported my decision.

Without all the smoke, my eyes don’t water and my family can eat comfortably indoors. My older children always used to suffer from respiratory infections, but my youngest girl grew up very healthy, breathing clean air.

In 2003, TWP asked for my help creating a play about the Justa stoves. The play was so successful that they proposed that I work as a stove promoter. I am happy being a stove promoter. I leave the house more, I have new friends, and I’ve seen new places, even Nicaragua for an international stove conference. My husband now works as a stove builder, so helping people with Justa stoves is a family affair for us.

Hilda visits with a clean coostove user in El Salvador.
Hilda (left) visits with a clean coostove user in El Salvador.

When I visit people to follow up after they have built their cookstoves, they say it’s like a gift from God. The Justa stove has improved my life and the lives of many others.

Bright Futures

bright futures

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing Manager

Within each community our work touches, we encounter the same desires among local citizens: a healthy life and a bright future for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. I think this is a desire that most every human on Earth longs for and strives towards. We seek healthier minds, bodies, and spirits.

At Trees, Water & People, we design conservation projects with one important question in mind: How can we create a bright future for every person we work with? Our approach to conservation includes more than just environmental protection. We seek to improve all aspects of life, including human health and economic well-being.

children with solar light Honduras
Children in Honduras benefit from solar lighting technology.

An example of this can be seen within our Solar Energy Program, which brings clean energy, like solar lights and home energy systems, to families living without electricity. Solar energy reduces the use of natural resources and cuts harmful emissions while providing families with a better quality of life. Children can study at night, long after the sun has set. Families save money by replacing kerosene lamps and reducing mobile charging fees. And, health is improved by reducing pollution in the home.

Solar lighting systems are both literally, and figuratively, creating a brighter future for thousands of families who have been left in the dark. And, this can be seen with each of our community-based programs, including reforestation, clean cookstoves, solar heaters, and green job training. We provide local people in Central America, Haiti and on Native American reservation with the tools, training, and resources needed to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing their communities.

This is what inspires us each day and, from what so many donors have told us, this is what inspires other people to give to these important projects. Conservation can, and should, empower people to have a brighter future!

We hope you will continue to followĀ our work and progress. In the coming months, we willĀ give you a closer look at how we areĀ creating bright futures for thousands of families.

bright futures graphic