Household Energy and Health Galleries
This gallery contains a selection of images on the provision and use of traditional household energy (i.e. wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop wastes) and kerosene (paraffin), and exposure to the resulting ‘household air pollution’ (HAP). Also featured are images of improved stoves with chimneys and hoods (including the ‘plancha’ stove used in the RESPIRE trial in Guatemala), advanced (e.g. fan-assisted) wood stoves, supply and use of LPG, and measurement of health-damaging pollutants (carbon monoxide and particulate matter). The galleries are:
- Household air pollution from solid fuel use
- Clean-Air (Africa) research project
- Biomass fuel supply
- Kerosene (paraffin) use for cooking and lighting
- Measurement of air pollution and stove testing
- Improved biomass stoves
- Clean fuels and energy
All photos © Nigel Bruce, except where indicated in the photo description.
Additional images and galleries will be added soon!
Household Energy, Air Pollution and Health
This gallery contains a selection of images on the provision and use of traditional household energy (i.e. wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop wastes) and kerosene (paraffin), and exposure to the resulting ‘household air pollution’ (HAP). Also featured are images of improved stoves with chimneys and hoods (including the ‘plancha’ stove used in the RESPIRE trial in Guatemala), advanced (e.g. fan-assisted) wood stoves, supply and use of LPG, and measurement of health-damaging pollutants (carbon monoxide and particulate matter).
Clean-Air (Africa) Research Project:
Funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research, this 4-year research programme in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana is working to support national policy to switch households away from solid fuels and kerosene to clean fuels, primarily LPG for cooking. The work includes surveys and in-depth enquiries around cooking fuels, attitudes towards LPG and air pollution levels in homes in peri-urban and rural areas of each country, policy support, and evaluation of innovative approaches to increasing access to LPG, such as ‘pay-as-you-go’ LPG systems (e.g. Paygo, CircleGas), and microloans.
Biomass Fuel Supply
Wood fuel may be collected, most commonly by women and children, duties which may take children out of school. Fuel collection may take a lot of time, depending on availabillity, but this can be as much as several hours per day. Women can be at personal risk when out collecting wood fuel in some settings. Charcoal is typically made in forest areas and most transported to urban areas where it is a widely used fuel, particularly among the urban poor.
Kerosene (paraffin) used for cooking and lighting:
Kerosene reamins a widely used fuel for cooking and lighting, and also for heating in some regions of the world. The WHO Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for Household Fuel Combustion (2014) recommended its use be discouraged, because of mounting evidence of a wide range of health risks, and also as it is a common cause of fires and burns. In addition, in low-income settings, kerosene is often stored in soft drink bottles, leading to poisoning of children who are not aware of the danger.
Measurement of household air pollution and stove testing:
Measurement of levels of pollution in the home and personal exposure (an important indicator of health risk) has focused on two main health-damaging pollutants, namely small particles (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO). CO has also been used as a ‘marker’ of PM2.5 as the former is considerably easier to measure, but the usefulness of this method appears to vary considerably between settings. Stove testing is mostly done in the laboratory using standardised protocols, including those recently published by ISO (2018). These set out the methods for measuring emissions of PM2.5 and CO, thermal efficiency, safety and durability. Field testing gives a better assessment of real-life performance, but is considerably more complex and expensive.
Improved biomass stoves:
A large variety of ‘improved’ biomass stoves burning wood, charcoal and processed forms of biomass (such as pellets) are available. Some have flues (pipes fixed to the stove), others vent into the kitchen. The different stoves employ a variety of combustion-enhancement technologies and designs, which include ‘rocket’ stoves such as Envirofit as well as those which use fans such as the Philips stove.
The best examples of these improved stoves can achieve much cleaner combustion than traditional stoves, reducing health damaging emissions and improving efficiency, but good performance in the laboratory has generally been found to deteriorate markedly when in everyday use.
Clean household fuels include gaseous fuels such as liquefied pertoleum gas (LPG – a variable mix of butane and propane), natural gas and biogas (methane), and liquid fuels including ethanol and methanol. Electricity whether supplied by the main national grid, mini-grid, or through solar photo-voltaic devices, is clean at the point of use, but may create air pollution, especially if generated with coal or diesel fuel.
Electricity tends to be expensive as a cooking fuel, although special appliances such as rice cookers, etc., can make it more affordable for some uses. It is ideal for lighting and other appliances. Solar cookers (i.e. parabolic devices reflecting solar radiation) can be useful, but for practical reasons rarely address a household’s full cooking energy needs.