From: Associated Press
Published October 25, 2004 12:00 AM

"Killer in the Kitchen" Smoke Claims 1.6 Million Lives a Year, Says U.N.

GENEVA — About 1.6 million people are killed each year by indoor smoke from cooking fires in developing countries, U.N. agencies said recently.


"That's one life lost every 20 seconds to the 'killer in the kitchen,'" said a statement by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Program.


"While the millions of deaths from well-known communicable diseases often make headlines, indoor air pollution remains a silent and unreported killer. Rural women and children are the most at risk."


The agencies said nearly half of the world continues to cook with dung, wood, coal, and other solid fuels in fireplaces and stoves that lack chimneys or vents to safely remove the smoke from the house.


"Smoke from burning these fuels gives off a poisonous cocktail of particles and chemicals," they said.


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People who aren't killed directly by the fumes can succumb to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia brought on by the smoke.


The agencies said a typical wood-fired cooking stove creates carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes at anywhere between seven and 500 times over the allowable limits.


"Day in, day out, and for hours at a time, rural women and their children in particular are subjected to levels of smoke in their homes that far exceed international safety standards," the statement said.


Hope for improvement comes from a growing network of experts and organizations that is finding innovative and affordable solutions using cleaner stoves, fuels, and smoke hoods, the agencies said.


"But this is just the beginning," they said. "We need the same attention paid to this killer in the kitchen as is paid to other major killers."


Source: Associated Press


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