Window in kitchen can prevent millions of deaths

Food for thought

Creating a window in the kitchen can save lakhs of Indian women who die a slow death because of the smoke from the fuel used in cooking food.

Household air pollution generated from burning coal cow-dung cake, wood and farm residue as cooking fuel inside poorly ventilated kitchen kills women who first developed lung diseases which subsequently leads to other illnesses and ultimately death. It is the second most important risk factors for death in India.

New analyses of global health data and independent Indian research demonstrates the notoriety of household air pollution as a killer, according to India-specific analysis of Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data. Though the GBD data was released in December, 2012 country-specific reports have just started coming up.

“Burning of solid fuel in stoves inside a poorly ventilated kitchen is a major cause of death. Creating a window in the kitchen for better ventilation will surely help in the short run though the long term policy objective should be availability of less hazardous fuel,” Lalit Dandona, a professor of global health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in the University of Washington, which spearheaded the GBD data collection worldwide, told Deccan Herald.

An independent research conducted by Chest Research Foundation at Pune, John Hopkins University and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in the last five years corroborates GBD findings.

In their efforts to understand why lung diseases affects non-smokers in a big way, the Indo-US team of scientists sampled 1,000 poor families living in and around Pune. They found accumulation of invisible soot particles in the room led to absorption of the particles in the lungs causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The poor people don’t have a separate kitchen and use a portion of their living space as kitchen. With barely any ventilation, the pollution affects all,” said Anurag Agrawal, a scientist at IGIB.

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