The Impact of Household Energy and Indoor Air Pollution on the Health of the Poor: Implications for Policy Action and Intervention
More than 2 billion of the world’s poorest people still rely on biomass and coal burning for household energy needs. Use of these fuels leads to levels of indoor air pollution many times higher than acceptable ambient air quality standards. This exposes women and children to a major public health hazard. Including the risk of acute respiratory infections (ARI), (pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer), and is estimated to account for a substantial proportion of the global burden of disease in developing countries. Other important direct health impacts from household energy use among the poor include burns to children and injuries to women from carrying wood. A wide range of interventions can reduce the impact of indoor air pollution. These include changes to the Source (improved stoves, cleaner fuels), living environment (better ventilation) and user behaviour (keeping children away from smoke during peak cooking times). These can be delivered through policies operating at national level and local level. Experience to date shows that successful implementation requires participation by local people (particularly women), collaboration between 'sectors' with responsibility for health, energy, environment, housing, planning etc., and with an emphasis on market sustainability.