Improving indoor air quality for poor families : a controlled experiment in Bangladesh
The World Health Organization's 2004 Global and Regional Burden of Disease Report estimates that acute respiratory infections from indoor air pollution (pollution from burning wood, animal dung, and other bio-fuels) kill a million children annually in developing countries, inflicting a particularly heavy toll on poor families in South Asia and Africa. This paper reports on an experiment that studied the use of construction materials, space configurations, cooking locations, and household ventilation practices (use of doors and windows) as potentially-important determinants of indoor air pollution. Results from controlled experiments in Bangladesh are analyzed to test whether changes in these determinants can have significant effects on indoor air pollution. Analysis of the data shows, for example, that pollution from the cooking area diffuses into living spaces rapidly and completely. Furthermore, it is important to factor in the interaction between outdoor and indoor air pollution. Among fuels, seasonal conditions seem to affect the relative severity of pollution from wood, dung, and other biomass fuels. However, there is no ambiguity about their collective impact. All are far dirtier than clean fuels. The analysis concludes that if cooking with clean fuels is not possible, then building the kitchen with porous construction material and providing proper ventilation in cooking areas will yield a better indoor health environment.
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