New Study: Household air pollution from cooking kills 4 million people annually

indoor air pollution

According to new global burden of disease estimates published in The Lancet, household air pollution (HAP) from cooking with solid fuels, such as wood, dung, coal, and charcoal, kills 4 million people annually. These findings double the previous known mortality rates of HAP from 2 million (WHO 2009) to 4 million deaths worldwide.

Everyday, approximately 3 billion people around the world depend on solid fuels for cooking meals and heating homes. Cooking over an open fire fills kitchens with 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, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Global Burden of Disease 2010 study represents the work of 486 co-authors from 50 countries, an effort led by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gloabl Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

“This shocking doubling of previous estimates of HAP-related mortality necessitates a redoubling of Alliance efforts to ensure that cooking a meal is a life-enriching, and not life-taking, activity for all people,” said Alliance Executive Director Radha Muthiah.

Trees, Water & People (TWP) has worked with GACC as an implementing organization since 2010, when the Alliance was created. In the past 15 years, TWP has built more than 50,000 clean cookstoves throughout Central America and Haiti in an effort to address the environmental, economic, and human health issues caused by open-fire cooking and HAP.

More information about the new global burden of disease study please visit the GACC website.