Author(s): Taylor ET, Nakai S
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Abstract Combustion of biomass fuels (wood and charcoal) for cooking releases smoke that contains health damaging pollutants. Women and children are the most affected. Exposure to biomass smoke is associated with acute respiratory infections (ARI). This study investigated the prevalence of ARI potentially caused by smoke from wood and charcoal stoves in Western Sierra Leone, as these two fuels are the predominant fuel types used for cooking. A cross sectional study was conducted for 520 women age 15-45 years; and 520 children under 5 years of age in homes that burn wood and charcoal. A questionnaire assessing demographic, household and exposure characteristics and ARI was administered to every woman who further gave information for the child. Suspended particulate matter (SPM) was continuously monitored in fifteen homes. ARI prevalence revealed 32\% and 24\% for women, 64\% and 44\% for children in homes with wood and charcoal stoves, respectively. After adjusting for potential confounders for each group, the odds ratio of having suffered from ARI was similar for women, but remained large for children in homes with wood stoves relative to charcoal stoves (OR = 1.14, 95\%CI: 0.71-1.82) and (OR = 2.03, 95\%CI: 1.31-3.13), respectively. ARI prevalence was higher for children in homes with wood stoves compared with homes with charcoal stoves, but ARI prevalence for both types of fuels is higher compared with reported prevalence elsewhere. To achieve a reduction in ARI would require switching from wood and charcoal to cleaner fuels.
This article was published in Int J Environ Res Public Health
and referenced in Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology