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November 11, 2011

Smoky Cookstoves Cause Nearly 2 Million Deaths Annually

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), harmful cookstove smoke is one of the top five threats to public health in poor and developing countries. Scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) also reported that indoor air pollution from the stoves affects about three billion people, nearly half of the entire world population. The health experts confirmed that about two million premature deaths a year are contributed by exposing to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires, mostly women and young children.


Smoky, inefficient stoves and open fires are currently the primary means of cooking and heating for those three billion people in the developing nations. Their homes are filled with dense smoke and blackened walls and ceilings by the biomass, such as wood, crop residues, charcoal or dung, or coal fuel used in their cookstoves. The health experts point out that those stoves increase their risk of developing several health problems like lung cancer, early childhood pneumonia, emphysema, cataracts, bronchitis, and cardiovascular disease.


Because women and children are at home most of the time while men usually leave their houses during the day, their health are at the greatest risk when they use those stoves. In addition to cause human health problems, the fuel used in those inefficient stoves also increase pressure on local natural resources such as deforestation and environmental destruction. Furthermore, those stoves may cause climate change at the regional as well as global level through emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and aerosols like black carbon.

In order to save more lives and solve these problems, the United Nations (UN) has launched a public-private initiative named the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The goal of the Alliance is to provide 100 million homes with clean, efficient stoves and fuels by 2020, and to every home where the clean stove is needed in the long run.