Killer cookstoves: Indoor smoke deadly in poor countries; cleaner stoves elusive

For 80-year-old grandmother Espirita Lima Bautista, breathing while cooking over her kitchen hearth is like inhaling the second-hand soot of 400 cigarettes.

Exposure to this dangerous pollution began when she was a baby, slung in a blanket over her mother’s back in her village in Peru. Two decades ago, concerns about cooking fires centered on deforestation. Now research shows that cookstoves can kill people, too. Indoor smoke from coal, wood or dung ranks ahead of unsafe water as a cause of death in low-income countries. Almost 2 million deaths a year are caused by cooking smoke, which is linked to pneumonia in children, low birth weight babies and lung cancer. The United Nations and governments have vowed to put improved cookstoves in people’s homes to clean up soot and greenhouse gases. The problem is that many newer models on the market actually make matters worse.


4 responses to “Killer cookstoves: Indoor smoke deadly in poor countries; cleaner stoves elusive

  1. So why don’t we build a coal fired power plant and run electric powerlines to Bautista’s village so she can cook over an electric stove? Why don’t we actually try to improve these poor peoples conditions instead of worrying about the non-problem of CO2 induced global warming, climate change, etc.? Electricity has been the biggest boon to the human condition imaginable yet the UN and the rest of the world elites want to make it hard to get. Fools.

  2. @Don, my stove is Natural Gas. I hope I am not killing myself. At 16¢ per kilowatt hour in Ca, I don’t think I can afford to convert to electric.

  3. Poor Espirita probably would have lived a longer life, maybe to 120 years, rather than a paltry four score, if she hadn’t had to breathe all that soot. I think she would be a good test subject for the EPA’s PM2.5 experiments, especially since she probably couldn’t understand the English in the informed consent.

  4. @Mark, No, your gas stove is not killing you nor anyone else with it’s CO2 emissions. My comment was for the poor folk in the third world that have no access to propane, butane, etc let alone natural gas for a cooking fuel. I spend my winters on the Big Island and electricity, after adding in all the surcharges, runs better than $0.40/kwh so I hear you. People have a choice there for heat (yes, there are areas people need heating in the homes) and cooking but propane is pretty expensive also.

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