The Health Impacts of Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution from Solid Fuels in Developing Countries – Knowledge, Gaps, and Data Needs
Globally, almost 3 billion people rely on biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues, and dung) and
coal as their primary source of domestic energy. Exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP) from the
combustion of solid fuels is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.
In this paper, we review the current knowledge on the relationship between IAP exposure
and disease and on interventions for reducing exposure and disease. We take an environmental
health perspective and consider the details of both exposure and health effects that are needed for
successful intervention strategies. We also identify knowledge gaps and detailed research questions
that are essential in successful design and dissemination of preventive measures and policies. In
addition to specific research recommendations, we conclude that given the interaction of housing,
household energy, and day-to-day household activities in determining exposure to indoor smoke,
research and development of effective interventions can benefit tremendously from integration of
methods and analysis tools from a range of disciplines in the physical, social, and health sciences.
Key words: developing countries, exposure assessment, exposure–response relationship, household
energy, indoor air pollution, intervention, public health.