Indoor air pollution (IAP) caused by solid fuel use and/or traditional cooking stoves is a global health threat, particularly for women and young children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59 (4): 908-913.
The WHO World Health Report 2002 estimates that IAP is responsible for 2.7% of the loss of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide and 3.7% in high mortality developing countries.
The global health community has recognized the deficit of information on exposure levels: for example, the 1999 Air Quality Guidelines of the World Health Organization states that “although work on simple exposure indicators urgently needs to be encouraged, realistically it is likely to be some years before sufficient environmental monitoring can be undertaken in most developing countries.” However, continued innovations in the field are allowing for more accurate and reliable data that will allow for more informed policy decisions regarding IAP.
Overall, while there is general agreement that traditional fuels release a high level of toxin pollutants, the recent literature has been focused on trying to understand the magnitude of the exposure levels.
We then discuss the available evidence on the effectiveness of popular policy prescriptions to reduce IAP within the household.
Indoor air pollution (IAP) remains a potentially large global health threat. Dockery, (1995) find a positive relationship between adjusted mortality rates and concentrations of particulate pollution. Quantifying the effects of exposure to indoor air pollution from biomass combustion on acute respiratory infections in developing countries. In a pair of natural experiment designs, Chay and Greenstone (2003a and 2003b) find that higher concentrations of total suspended particulates (TSPs) are strongly associated with higher rates of infant mortality; they found that a 1% increase in ambient TSPs results in a 0.35% decrease in the fraction of infants surviving to 1 year of age. Environmental Health Perspectives, 109 (5): 481-488. The next main challenge, then, is to translate these exposure levels to health impacts. An exposure-response relationship for acute respiratory infections as a result of exposure to indoor air pollution from biomass combustion in Kenya. Therefore, we now turn to a discussion of the current state of the literature regarding the effects of air pollution on health. In fact, a growing literature indicates that environmental insults at early ages can have long lasting influences on human health and productivity (e.g., Almond 2006). Berkeley, CA: Indoor Air Pollution Group, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, pp. Despite the importance of this issue, social scientists have only recently become interested in IAP. Household fuel choice in Zimbabwe : An empirical test of the energy ladder hypothesis. Pitt, Rosenzweig and Hasan (2006) observe that the most comprehensive review on economic studies of health in the developing world (Strauss and Thomas, 1998) does not contain any reference to this problem. Furthermore, much of the existing evidence on the consequences of IAP presents serious shortcomings, as it is largely based on observational studies and may confuse the causal effect of IAP with the effects of the determinants to its exposure. Most of what we know about the relationship between air pollution and health comes from studies that look at the impacts of ambient air pollution levels in the developed world. In fact, there is a substantial literature indicating that these ambient air pollution levels substantially affect human health, especially the health of infants and young children.