"Most people recognize that smoking is the worst thing you can do for your health," explained Smith. "The next worst thing you can do is be around smoke, and indoor fires are like being around a thousand burning cigarettes per hour. Babies may not smoke, but they are in these homes."
Recognizing the harm this does to the health of individuals, especially women and children, Smith's research has also identified the scale of the problem.
"We now understand that the deadly effects of these fuels that are used by nearly half the world," said Smith. "The impact of household air pollution is on scale with any other major health risk in developing countries, including exposure to HIV, mosquitoes or dirty water."
Household Air Pollution as a Driver of Climate Change
In addition to recognizing the impact of this cooking and heating practice on the health of women and children, his work has led to the recognition of the role household pollution plays in climate change. This smoke contains partially burned materials that contribute pollutants like black carbon and greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.
"We were the first in the early 1990s to do research showing that this kind of combustion also contributes to climate change," said Smith. "If you improve combustion in households you improve health directly and you get a climate protection benefit. There's a global benefit to improving combustion in developing countries."
The recognition of this co-benefit to both health and climate has led to increased support to get improved stoves out into these countries. Through international carbon offset markets, NGOs that Smith helped launch with former students now work independently to provide stoves in Uganda and other nations and sell tools to better measure air quality in developing nations.
|Contact: Nick Seaver|