Curbing Cooking Smoke That Kills More People Than Malaria
Environmental hazards sicken or kill millions of people — soot or smog in the air, for example, or pollutants in drinking water. But the most dangerous stuff happens where the food is made — in peoples’ kitchens.
That’s according to the World Health Organization, which says that the smoke and gases from cooking fires in the world’s poorest countries contribute to nearly two million deaths a year — that’s more than malaria.
Burning wood, crop waste, charcoal or dung does the damage, filling homes with smoke and blackening walls. It’s women and children who suffer the most, because they are the ones tending the fires. But it’s not that easy a problem to fix.
Several scientists from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland are calling attention to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. It brings in celebrities, chefs and politicians to help create awareness for the need for cleaner fuels and better cookstoves.
The technology is easy, but getting the stoves and cleaner fuels to impoverished millions is not. It’s not as simple as saying, OK, buy something cleaner and your life will improve. There are social and economic barriers galore.