From: SciDevNet
Published June 22, 2015 07:47 AM

The dangers of indoor air pollution

Household air pollution may have caused around 4.3 million premature deaths from respiratory diseases in 2012, mainly in developing countries, according to a medical paper.

Such pollution dramatically increases the risk of both children and adults contracting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), says the paper, published online last month in Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The conclusions are based on an analysis of medical studies about the respiratory effects on people exposed to household air pollution.

“A low lung function value at an early age seems to be a risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life.”


Around three billion people cook and heat their homes using unprocessed solid fuels such as wood, animal dung and crop waste, the study says. These are normally burned in open fires or simple stoves in rooms or huts with insufficient ventilation.

As a result, people breathe in high levels of pollutants, the researchers say, including particles of soot small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, which is especially dangerous to children.

“A low lung function value at an early age seems to be a risk factor for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life,” says Akshay Sood, a medical researcher at the University of New Mexico, United States, and one of the article’s authors. “This may explain the occurrence of indoor air pollution-related COPD in younger adults as compared to tobacco smoke-related COPD, which usually occurs at an older age.”

Indoor barbeque stove image via Shutterstock.

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