Indoor air pollution

Health and Social Impacts of Household Energy

photo of doctor with child

Health Impacts

Cooking and heating with solid fuels (wood, charcoal, crop waste, dung, and coal) produces high levels of smoke in and around the home that contains a variety of health-damaging pollutants.

There is strong evidence that exposure to household air pollution can lead to a wide range of child and adult disease outcomes, including acute and chronic respiratory conditions (e.g. pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, stroke and cataract. There is also supporting evidence suggesting exposure to household air pollution is linked with adverse pregnancy outcomes, tuberculosis, upper aero-digestive tract, cervical and other cancers.

Social and Environmental Impacts

The inefficient use of energy by households has impacts beyond health. The inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking and heating is a major source of short-lived climate pollutants (e.g. black carbon) and the unsustainable harvesting of fuelwood contributes to local forest degradation. Fuel collection places a burden on the household, especially women and children and the lack of reliable electricity can limit household activities to daylight hours.

Millenium Development Goals

In September 2000, head of states met to set global development goals. Many of the Millenium Development Goals relate to household energy. Reducing solid fuel use is associated with reducing poverty, respiratory illness and environment degredation.

NEW:

WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion

Health in the Green Economy:
household energy

News

Julia Roberts, Ambassador for Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Indoor Air Quality Guidelines: selected pollutants

Clean household energy for all

Statistics

Burden of disease

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Databases

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Information material

Publications

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Fact sheets,
press releases, presentations

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Links

Other web sites on indoor air pollution

Partnerships

UN-Energy

UN-Energy

Partnership for Clean Indoor Air

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Contact us

WHO's Programme on Indoor Air Pollution

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