External Source:
Indoor air pollution and health of the poor | WHO Commission Report

“Exposure to indoor air pollution from the combustion of traditional biomass fuels (wood, charcoal, animal dung, and crop wastes) and coal is a significant public health hazard predominantly affecting poor rural and urban communities in developing countries […] The majority of those exposed are women, who are normally responsible for food preparation and cooking, and infants/young children who are usually with their mothers near the cooking area.”

“Addressing the Impact of Household Energy and Indoor Air Pollution on the Health of the Poor: Implications for Policy Action and Intervention Measures” is a report prepared for the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health. The paper came out of discussions by Working Group 5 of the Commission, entitled Improving Health Outcomes of the Poor, as well as based in part on the proceedings of a WHO-USAID Global Consultation on the Health Impact of Indoor Air Pollution and Household Energy in Developing Countries, held in Washington, DC in May 2000.

The conclusion of the report states:

More than 2 billion of the world’s poorest people still rely on biomass and coal-burning for household energy needs such as cooking and heating, putting women and children at increased risk of diseases such as pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer (coal only), which is estimated to account for a substantial proportion of the global burden of disease in developing countries. Intervention measures to reduce the impact of IAP include changes to the source, living environment and user behaviour, and can be delivered through policies operating at national and local level. IAP interventions perform favourably in terms of cost-effectiveness, with, for example, an improved stove programme costing US$ 50-100 per DALY saved. Although evidence on health effects and on cost-effectiveness is still in need of strengthening, concerted global action on this major preventable public health hazard impacting predominantly on the poor is long overdue. It is time to act.”

The report includes the following sections:

  1. Review of the evidence for health effects
  2. Global burden of disease from indoor air pollution
  3. Policy and intervention measures that could improve health of the poor
  4. Key issues and constraints to implementation
  5. Costs