In homes with open-burning and unvented coal or biomass stoves, emissions of particulate matter and other pollutants can be 100 times
higher than WHO-recommended levels. Such pollutants are carcinogenic and cause heart and lung disease through impairing immune response, reducing
the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, causing systemic inflammation and ischemia, among other physiological disturbances.
“Women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth, are particularly vulnerable,” says Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO
Assistant Director General, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health cluster. “Globally, more than 50% of pneumonia deaths among children
under 5 are linked to household air pollution.”
Women and children may also suffer other consequences. In many regions, they spend hours every day gathering fuel for traditional stoves,
restricting time for earning money and going to school.
The way forward
In order to meet the new targets, there needs to be rapid scale-up in access to cleaner and more modern cooking and heating appliances, as
well as lamps, in developing country homes, says Dr Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“We need to scale up the use of clean fuels such as biogas, ethanol, or natural or liquefied petroleum gas with appropriate venting, as well as
solar electricity solutions for lighting,” he said. “And clean technologies and fuels should be priced within reach of the lowest-income households.”
At the same time, the new guidelines advise countries not to use unprocessed coal or kerosene as home energy sources, and to look for substitute fuels.
“A great deal of work is going into improving the types of biomass cookstoves commonly used in developing countries for preparing meals,
but only those that achieve these household fuel combustion emission targets can ensure lower health risks from household air pollution for women and children.”
WHO regional and country offices will support governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and development
partners in implementation of these guidelines. The guidelines will be reviewed and updated periodically. Source :WHO guidelines 2014