Saturday, January 19, 2008

What is "Indoor Air Pollution"?

As is usually the case, I defer to experts and other authors to provide existing information to you the reader - I did not identify IAP as a problem, I have not invented any new IAP stoves, and so I am mostly here to consolidate key information, disseminate old data that is already on the web, and when I can I contribute the results of my own experiments and experiences. Basically, my own interpretation of IAP as it applies to cooking/heating stoves in developing countries can be found in the resources list below (a select few of all that are out there and easily available). For your reference, it is easy to search on indoor air pollution topics on the internet - luckily if you use Google "IAP + stoves" it leads you to a very narrow field;

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a good introduction here:
and next you'll want to look at their more in depth analysis at:
and now maybe your ready for WHO's fancy 42 page "brochure" (but too much ink is required to print it out) "Fuel for Life" at where they postulate that 1.5 million people are killed by IAP every year (or more accurately, there are many/more deaths that have IAP as a contributing factor). They discuss everything under the sun, but in the end generally have a preference for a shift to more "modern" fuels for cooking, initially those based on petroleum and then switching to more benign biofuels later. They reach this conclusion it seems after deciding that chimneys just divert smoke so that now it pollutes the overall environment, while the other possibility (in my opinion) is that we can design more efficient biomass stoves so that the smoke (a combustible gas in most cases) is burned inside the stove to extract the maximum energy from the fuel. A central problem not addressed by WHO is that modern fuels need to be purchased (and petroleum based ones are non-renewable), while the people using wood stoves tend to do so because the fuel is free or available at a low cost.

Right there you have an introduction to the health aspects (remember, almost 3 billion people rely on biomass stoves) that is almost complete enough, and you can start to investigate how people measure (quantify) IAP - smoke - and this leads you to the University of California at Berkeley (my neighborhood), one of the best places doing this research:
and here are more of their publications in the IAP area:

And we are not even going to talk here about the impacts of poor quality cooking stoves on deforestation, sustainability, and the potential for global warming:
In the end though, all of these things are related - they all affect quality of life; but the term "IAP" just refers to health issues.

With that, we'll assume that you know why IAP stoves are an important issues, and start to talk about how we can design and implement more IAP stoves!

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