Indoor Air Pollution – The Silent Killer
A couple of weeks ago, all of the mainstream news outlets reported the stunning 2 millions deaths a year from air pollution. Most recommendations to avoid the inhalation of toxic air is to spend time indoors However, not everyone has this luxury. Almost half of the global population is affected by indoor air pollution. In 90% of rural homes in the developing world, families are using unsafe cookstoves to cook, heat, and light their homes. These cookstoves, which use biomass (cow dung, wood, coal and agricultural waste) emit toxic air and soot, bringing PM10 levels to a dangerous 100,000% above the World Health Organization’s recommendation.
Altogether, indoor air pollution from cookstoves is responsible for 4% of the total worldwide disease burden, and causes 4 million premature deaths every year – one every 8 seconds. This is equivalent to the entire population of Montana dying four times over, year in and year out – or half the population of New York City. If this many people were dying every year in the first world, it would be seen as an international emergency.
Meanwhile, the world is turning a blind eye to the women and children who are most impacted by these cooking methods. By inhaling this toxic air and soot, they’ve become at risk for a variety of respiratory diseases like COPD and Acute Lower Respiratory Infections (ALRI). In fact, these women are three times as likely to develop COPD than women who use gas burning cookstoves. What’s even worse, is that ALRI’s is the leading cause of death in children under 5 and kills 2 million children every year.