Many people believe that the root causes of respiratory and lung problems stem from smoking, but there are a host of other causes that can lead to these health issues too. One such cause is the, “exposure to toxic smoke from traditional cooking practices (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016).” Established in 2010, and primarily located in, “Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016),” The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves aims to provide clean cookstoves to countries, eventually globally, in order to reduce the level of black carbon emitted into the atmosphere, reduce deforestation, and, most importantly, reduce household air pollution caused by traditional cooking practices which will save the lives of the many women and children exposed to the toxic smoke every day.
(Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016)
This public-private partnership works with the social enterprise, The Paradigm Project, which is, “working to create sustainable social, economic and environmental value within developing world communities (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2012).” By 2020, The Paradigm Project aims to deliver and install 5 million clean cookstoves in developing countries across the globe.
Cooking using an open wood fire allows for the chemical components from the wood to be released into the surrounding space and atmosphere. Since the wood fires used for cooking are usually built indoors or within a closed/compact area, the particles and toxins from the smoke tend to cloud around the women and children nearby, kindling a host of health problems.
The constituents of wood fire smoke include carbon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particle matter, methane, mould spores, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a number of aldehydes, oxygenated monoaromatics, and a multitude of other toxic and suffocating chemicals (Helmenstine 2017). Exposure to chemicals such as these lead to fatally chronic and acute health problems such as, “child pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease, as well as low birth-weights in children born to mothers whose pregnancies are spent breathing toxic fumes from traditional cookstoves (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016).” The World Health Organisation notes that smoke exposure from wood fire cooking stoves is the, “fourth leading risk factor for disease in developing countries, and causes 4.3 million premature deaths per year (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016).”
Two examples of the clean cookstoves. Ethanol-powered on the left, and solar-powered on the right. (Clean Cooking Catalog n.d.)
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is comprised of a dedicated, interdisciplinary, racially diverse team who work together in order to keep the mission running smoothly and allowing for its growth. They are funded by, “grants and investments from governments, corporations, foundations, civil society, investors, and individuals (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016),” who support their work and want to help the Alliance grow. They have also partnered with, “more than 1,600 diverse partners from around the world including national and multilateral partners, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, investors, foundations, academic institutions, entrepreneurs, trade associations, and women’s cooperatives (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016).”
As more of these environmentally friendly clean cookstoves, that are safer for the health of the women and children around them, continue to spread around developing countries across the world, smoke emissions will radically reduce and household air pollution will diminish as a current high contender of health problems.
Bruce, N. 2011, Wood smoke from cooking fires linked to pneumonia, cognitive impacts, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/11/10/cookstove-smoke-pneumonia-iq/>.
Clean Cooking Catalog n.d., Stoves, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://catalog.cleancookstoves.org/stoves>.
Clean Cookstoves 2016, Focus Countries, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://cleancookstoves.org/country-profiles/focus-countries/index.html>.
Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016, Health, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://cleancookstoves.org/impact-areas/health/>.
Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves 2016, Our Partners, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://cleancookstoves.org/about/our-partners/>.
Helmenstine, A.M. 2017, Smoke Chemistry, About Education, New York City, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://chemistry.about.com/od/firecombustionchemistry/a/Smoke-Chemistry.htm>.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2014, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves – The Paradigm Project, viewed 13 February 2017, <http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/6632.php>.