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Developing Countries to Benefit From Cleaner Cook Stoves

  • Kim Lewis

A recent article in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science & Technology offers some solutions to the use of cook stoves or open fires that burn wood, charcoal and other pollutants.

Billions of people worldwide use the old-fashioned stoves that contribute to disease and death from the inhalation of soot and other materials in the smoke. The emissions also contribute to air pollution and environmental degradation such as deforestation. As an alternative, the article looks at cleaner, more efficient stoves for developing countries.

“The most recent global burden of disease study was published last December, and it indicates that we now know about four million people die every year from exposure to the cook stove smoke, and that results in childhood pneumonia for kids, and for adults, cardio-vascular disease, and chronic lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mostly in men and women,” explained Jacob Moss, director of cook stoves initiatives at the US Department of State in Washington DC, and also one of the authors of the article.

He said there are additional health consequences from the use of the old-fashioned cook stoves such as the development of hernias in some cases from people carrying a large load of wood on their backs, and burns from clothing catching on fire.

Moss said there are many benefits to newer cook stoves. They can save women and girls time collecting wood, a chore that in conflict areas can put them at risk of rape. The stoves also curb carbon pollution by using cleaner fuels like liquid petroleum gas, bio-gas, ethanol, and heavily dense pelletized fuels.

The cook stoves initiatives director also said he and his colleagues, along with various countries and the Global Alliance, are developing an international set of standards for clean stoves. They’ll receive ratings of relatively clean, very clean and very efficient. They are hoping these standards will be widely adopted by countries around the world.

Moss said countries are cooperating with their efforts so that the more efficient stoves can be marketed, distributed and sold at a price people can afford.
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