Scientists launch international study of open-fire cooking and air quality

Nov 01, 2012
This is a cookstove in Guana. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Expanding its focus on the link between the atmosphere and human health, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is launching a three-year, international study into the impact of open-fire cooking on regional air quality and disease.

The study will break new ground by bringing together , engineers, statisticians, and social scientists who will analyze the effects of smoke from traditional cooking methods on households, villages, and entire regions.

Researchers will combine newly developed sensors with computer and statistical models to look at what happens to human health when traditional cooking methods are used. They will also evaluate whether newer, more efficient could reduce disease and positively affect regional .

The project brings together a diverse team of pollution, climate, and health experts from NCAR, the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Ghana School of Public Health, and Ghana Health Services. Funding comes from the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor.

The researchers will focus primarily on northern Ghana, where they will examine possible links between and such diseases as meningitis. Their findings are expected to provide information to policymakers and health officials in other developing countries where open-fire cooking or inefficient stoves are common.

"Often when you visit remote villages in Ghana, they're shrouded in haze for many miles from all the fires used for cooking," says NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer, an atmospheric chemist overseeing the project. "Given that an estimated three billion people worldwide are cooking over fire and smoke, we need to better understand how these pollutants are affecting public health as well as regional air quality and even the climate."

Wiedinmyer and her colleagues will use a novel combination of local and regional air quality measurements—including specialized smartphone applications that are more mobile than traditional air quality sensors—and cutting-edge computer models of weather, air quality, and climate. The researchers and student assistants will also survey villagers to get their views on possible connections between open-fire cooking and disease as well as their interest in adopting different .

Cooking fires in developing countries are a leading source of carbon monoxide, particulates, and smog. These can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from relatively mild ailments, such as headaches and nausea, to potentially life-threatening conditions, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The fires also emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that, when mixed into the global atmosphere, can affect weather patterns and warm the climate. As regional temperatures warm, that in turn can act to increase the level of air pollution, thereby potentially leading to greater health risks.

The project builds on other NCAR projects studying links between the atmosphere and . These include the development of specialized forecasts of weather conditions associated with the beginning and end of outbreaks of meningitis in Africa.

"We're excited about the opportunity to continue working with our collaborators in Ghana and to help alleviate a major health problem across the Sahel of Africa," says NCAR's Mary Hayden, a medical anthropologist. "Bringing together an international transdisciplinary team of with climatologists, atmospheric chemists, and engineers to tackle the problem is the first step in addressing these complex human-environmental problems."

Explore further: Atmospheric mercury review raises concerns of environmental impact

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Tom Gillilan
not rated yet Nov 01, 2012
IF YOU TRAVEL TO LOS ANGELES BRING YOUR OWN AIR AND A GAS MASK

SMOKE POLLUTION EVERYWHERE

Thousands and hundreds of thousands of people cook every day with charcoal and wood in a city with some of the worst air pollution already even though electricity and natural gas at every apartment and home. LA has the worst air management in the USA.

DOCTOR DEATH IN CHARGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL BREATHING AIR HERE IN LA
Tom Gillilan
not rated yet Nov 01, 2012
All of the following chemicals are in charcoal and wood smoke:

Carbon Monoxide, Methane, Volatile Organic Compounds, Formaldehyde, Acrolein, Propionaldehyde, Butryaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, Furfural, Substituted Furans, Benzene, Alkyl Benzenes, Toluene,Acetic Acid, Formic Acid, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxide, Methyl Chloride, Napthalene, Substituted Napthalenes, Oxygenated Monoaromatics, Guaiacol, Phenol, Syringol, Catechol, Particulate Organic Carbon,Oxygenated Polycylic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Florene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Methyl Anthracenes, Fluoranthrene, Pyrene, Benzo(a)Anthracene, Chrysene, Benzofluoranthenes, Benzo(e)pyrene, Benzo(a)pyrene, Perylene, Ideno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, Benzo(ghi)perylene, Coronene.

AT LEAST TEN OF THESE CHEMICALS CAUSE CANCER

THESE CHEMICALS ALSO CAUSE AND AGGRAVATE ASTHMA, BRONCHITIS, COPD, BLOOD CLOTS, STROKES, HEART ATTACKS, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE AND MORE, MUCH MORE