Indoor Air Pollution Caused by Cookstoves poses Health Risks

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 4 million premature deaths (predominantly caused by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases) each year attributed to household air pollution created by using wood, coal and other solid fuels for cooking and heating homes.

A novel multi-country trial is being carried out by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with partial support through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the global health problem. The multimillion-dollar study will determine if using widely available, clean, alternative cooking fuel significantly reduces deaths and illnesses. The 5-year study is part of a broader international effort to research chronic lung diseases which are coordinated by the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD).

The NIH Director Francis S. Collins commented on the matter:

“Indoor air pollution caused by cookstoves is one of the top health risks in developing countries, causing deaths from low birth weight among babies, pneumonia in young children, and heart and lung problems in adults. By working with our global partners on alternative fuel solutions, we have an opportunity to reduce that risk significantly for millions of people.”

According to the WHO, there are approximately 3 billion people worldwide who are reliant on using solid fuels for both cooking and heating. The indoor pollution generated can cause a range of diseases such as pneumonia, heart disease, cancer and chronic lung disease.

The study which is led by Emory University in Atlanta plans to recruit 800 pregnant women at a number of trial sites and will randomly assign half to receive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stoves and a supply of gas. The trial will run until the child is 2 years old, a number of medical measurements will be then taken i.e. did the mother suffer from hypertension during pregnancy, the incidence of pneumonia and growth and development of the infants. Addition to this, several hundred older women will be assigned to each site and monitored to assess cardiopulmonary, metabolic and cancer outcomes. Biomarker analysis of blood and urine samples will also be carried out.

This cutting-edge study will hopefully provide an essential insight into the effects of air pollution produced by cookstoves reliant on LPG on health. The trial will also provide scientific evidence of potential alternatives to using solid fuels which may subsequently reduce the number of health issues related to indoor air pollution.

Improved Air Quality Correlated with Controlling Children’s Asthma

Asthma currently affects 1.1 million children in the UK, that’s 1 in 11 children receiving treatment.

Asthma is characterized by coughing, breathing difficulties, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. It has been previously reported that children with asthma should not be exposed to indoor air that’s contaminated with allergens and pollutants to reduce the risk of asthma attacks. A clinical study carried out by the American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that breathing clean air may be as effective as medications to control the disease. The report also highlights that children are more sensitive to both pollutants and allergens due to a number of biological factors, such as their lungs, brains and immune systems are still at developmental stages and their respiratory tracts are more permeable. Asthma triggers such as dust mites, mould, furry pets, sources of indoor air pollution (e.g. tobacco smoke, gas from cookers and heaters and open fires) and household chemicals such as air fresheners should all be controlled to help reduce asthma attacks and the need for medication.

For further information regarding how to cut down allergens and pollutants in your home, visit: http://www.webmd.boots.com/asthma/news/20161101/air-quality-helps-kids-asthma

 

UNICEF Report: Indoor Air Pollution is Linked with a Range of Respiratory Diseases in Children

In recent years, a vast number of studies have been carried out to explore the detrimental effects of air pollution on health and wellbeing. In a UNICEF report, it was reported that almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with high toxic levels of air pollution.

A recent quote from UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake regarding the issues with air pollution suggests an urgency, demanding action to be taken place to combat this global issue.

“Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day. Pollutants don’t only harm children’s developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.”

The UNICEF report also highlights the negative implications of indoor air pollution on children; a range of respiratory diseases, as well as pneumonia, are linked with indoor air pollution. Children are more susceptible than adults to indoor air pollution, this is due to a number of biological factors, such as their lungs, brains and immune systems are still at developmental stages and their respiratory tracts are more permeable.

UNICEF is asking world leaders attending the upcoming COP 22 (Marrakesh, Morocco) to take four fundamental steps in their countries to protect children from both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

The Big Four

  • Reduce Air Pollution
  • Increase Children’s Healthcare
  • Minimise Children’s Exposure
  • Monitor Air Pollution

To achieve lower levels of air pollution UNICEF are taking drastic steps to help protect children from a range of life-threatening illnesses on international scale. Lake highlighted the significance of this global problem:

“We protect our children when we protect the quality of our air. Both are central to our future”.

If we are what we eat, what about what we breathe?

It’s time to eat, drink and breathe healthily

We’re frequently bombarded with advice on what we should and shouldn’t eat and how much we should or shouldn’t drink, but no-one ever tells us what we should or shouldn’t breathe – despite the fact that breathing polluted indoor air has been linked to a range of serious health conditions.
We breathe in far more than we eat and drink. On an average day, working-age people eat and drink a combined total of 2.7 litres, yet breathe a staggering 13,000 litres of air.

NHS experts offer wide-ranging advice on how to eat healthily; from 5 fruit and vegetables a day, guideline daily amounts on food products, to advice on red meat intake. The Government also recommend we drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and limit our daily alcohol intake but no advice is issued on what the air we are breathing in could be doing to our bodies, or what we can do about it.

This is despite the fact that we spend up to 90% of our time indoors and breathing polluted indoor air has been linked to allergies, asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease.

Research shows that the best way to tackle indoor air pollution is to make sure that you have effective ventilation. This is because effective ventilation removes indoor air pollutants from the home, stopping them from accumulating and keeping indoor air quality at a healthy level.

Professor Peter Howarth, Consultant Physician at the University of Southampton, said:

“When individuals and families are exposed to a potent mix of airborne pollutants within the home, it is well documented that a range of health conditions occur more frequently. I have had many patients come to me with health problems due to indoor pollutants and this is normally down to poor ventilation and high levels of moisture in the air”.