More than half the world’s population cooks with solid biomass fuels, such as wood, dung, charcoal or agricultural residues. Use of these fuels has been found to cause significant levels of respiratory infections, as well as trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers, ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cataracts. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 found Household Air Pollution (HAP) from solid fuels to be the third leading cause of disease worldwide. Mitigation of HAP has a vital role for lowering health risks, particularly for women and children in developing countries where cooking with solid fuels is a common practice.
As incomes rise, the transition to modern energy sources will ultimately reduce HAP. During the transition, efforts to increase access to cleaner fuels, provision of improved stoves, and public information leading to improved ventilation and behavior change may significantly reduce exposure to household smoke. Design of HAP reduction strategies has been hindered, however, by a lack of data on air quality in households and the health benefits of potential mitigation measures.