-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Smoky, inefficient indoor
cooking and heating stoves that are widely used by people in
developing nations contribute to 2 million deaths a year, according
to health experts.
Indoor air pollution from these stoves affects about 3 billion
people, or nearly half the world's population, the U.S. National
Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists wrote in a commentary
published in the current issue of the journal
The biomass (wood, crop residues, charcoal or dung) or coal fuel
used in these stoves fills homes with dense smoke and blackens
walls and ceilings, increasing the risk of health problems such as
pneumonia, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
the scientists explained.
Women and children are at greatest risk for health damage caused
by these stoves because they're at home most of the time while men
typically leave during the day.
In addition to the impact on human health, the fuel used in
these stoves leads to deforestation and environmental destruction,
the NIH authors noted.
They also pointed out that women and girls in many societies
typically gather fuel for the stoves. This is a time-consuming
chore that often requires them to walk many miles from their home
communities, which increases their risk of sexual assault and other
types of violence.
If women and girls didn't have to devote so much time to
gathering fuel, they would have more opportunities for education
and economic development, the authors of the report suggested.
"Many people in developed countries don't realize that smoke from indoor cooking fires is a terrible scourge upon the health of a large number of people," Dr. Francis Collins, one of the report authors and director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in an NIH news release.
"International efforts to combat this scourge are now beginning. The NIH's role is to support the research that will determine the most efficient, cost-effective means to do so while safe-guarding human health," Collins added.
To address the problem, the United Nations has launched a
public-private partnership called the Global Alliance for Clean
Cookstoves. The goal is to get clean, efficient stoves and fuels
into 100 million homes by the year 2020, and eventually in all
Here's where you can learn more about the
for Clean Cookstoves.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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