4 Million People Per Year Die from Indoor Cooking Smoke | Cooking Smoke Causes Air Pollution ~ Friendly Eco Might

Sunday, 18 January 2015

4 Million People Per Year Die from Indoor Cooking Smoke | Cooking Smoke Causes Air Pollution

Open Fire Cooking

Air pollution is an alarmingly increasing global issue since many years. Starting from the choking chimneys and grey-brown skies of cities like Beijing and Delhi to the phthalates from carpets and furniture in our homes, everything results to pollution. But according to World Health Organization (WHO), there is another kind of air pollution, caused by cooking indoors over open fires, that kills about 4 million people a year.

The WHO roughly calculated that about seven million people die due to inhaling unhealthy smoke particles. The biggest culprit for these deaths is the indoor cooking fires. North Americans hardly cook over an open fire, but it still continues to be a part of daily life in many developing countries where firewood, coal, crop waste and dung are used as fuel to cook instead of gas.

Kirk Smith, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, says that having an indoor cooking fire is equivalent to burning 400 cigars an hour. As stated to an article in Quartz:

“The smoke from these fires pumps a harmful fug of fine particles and carbon monoxide into homes. Appalling ventilation then prevents that smoke from escaping, and fine smoke particle levels shoot up to 100 times higher than the limits that the WHO considers acceptable.”

Why cleaner alternatives to indoor cooking fires don't catch on in Developing Countries?

There are interesting reasons to the question. For example, the indigenous Mayans, from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, use indoor cooking fires with three symbolic stones. When the ventilation was improved, the thatch didn't last long. The most interesting thing is that, the smoke from these fires keeps away the bugs and insects that cause damage to the thatch and lasts for 20 to 30 years.

The Mayans are unwilling to get rid of their three stones, because they represent the traditional role of women. The infant girls advance from a swaddled position to straddled position with open legs as soon as they turn three months old, which is related to the three symbolic stones. In contrast, infant boys have their legs opened at the age of four months in honour of the four corners of the corn fields where maize is grown for making tortillas to serve at every meal.

Of course, other cultures have similar beliefs and justifiable reasons for plunging with traditional cooking fires. But the smoky cooking fires put the children in risk as they spend their time with their mothers who is involved in cooking most of the time. So there is need to change a few things in their customs.

It is the indoor cooking smoke that is responsible for respiratory infections in children. More than half of them are killed and are less than 5 years of age. With a total of 11,000 people dying daily from cooking smoke, it is very much necessary for us to think about.

Tags: Air pollution facts, air pollution, articles on air pollution, air pollution effects, open fire cooking, indoor cooking, air pollution solutions, pollution in America, World Health Organization reports on air pollution, pollution due to industries and automobiles, air pollution




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The Author

Somanath Yadavalli is 19 year old guy, who is pursuing his B.Tech (Electronics and Communication Engineering) in The National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, Karnataka, India. He is managing several blogs from his own living room. His passion is to do something for his planet. Read more...

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