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Indoor air quality for poor families: new evidence from Bangladesh

Listed author(s):
  • Dasgupta, Susmita
  • Huq, Mainul
  • Khaliquzzaman, M.
  • Pandey, Kiran
  • Wheeler, David

Indoor air pollution (IAP) from cooking and heating is estimated to kill a million children annually in developing countries. To promote a better understanding of IAP, the authors investigate the determinants of IAP in Bangladesh using the latest air monitoring technology and a national household survey. The study concludes that IAP is dangerously high for many poor families in Bangladesh. Concentrations of respirable airborne particulates(PM10) 300 ug/m3 or greater are common in the sample, implying widespread exposure to a serious health hazard. Poor households in Bangladesh depend heavily on wood, dung, and other biomass fuels. The econometric results indicate that fuel choice significantly affects indoor pollution levels: Natural gas and kerosene are significantly cleaner than biomass fuels. However, household-specific factors apparently matter more than fuel choice in determining PM10 concentrations. In some biomass-burning households, concentrations are scarcely higher than in households that use natural gas. The results suggest that cross-household variation is strongly affected by structural arrangements-cooking locations, construction materials, and ventilation practices. The authors'analysis also suggests that poor families may not have to wait for clean fuels or clean stoves to enjoy significantly cleaner air. Within their sample household population, some arrangements are already producing relatively clean conditions, even when"dirty"biomass fuels are used. Since these arrangements are already within the means of poor families, the scope for cost-effective improvements may be larger than is commonly believed.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3393.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3393
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  1. World Bank, 2001. "Making Sustainable Commitments : An Environment Strategy for the World Bank," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13985, December.
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