Is Indoor Air Pollution a big problem?
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) gives the measure of air quality inside and around the boundaries of a concrete structure. IAQ affects the comfort, health, and productivity of the occupants of the building. The World Health Organisation (WHO) deems indoor air pollution as the world’s largest single environmental health risk.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published a study that depicted indoor air pollution as the cause of 1.6 million premature deaths in 2017. What’s staggering is that it even outnumbered the homicidal mortalities (around 400,000) in the same year by four times! This data emphasizes how gruesome indoor air pollution can be, making it one of the most brutal killers in the world.
Indoor air pollution is a global risk factor that can jeopardize us and bring the world on its feet. However, the population of low-income countries is the most susceptible to the adverse impacts of indoor air pollution. It is the prime risk factor for their premature deaths because of lack of access to cleaner fuels.
What difference does burning of solid fuel create?
Burning of solid fuel for cooking and heating make for the largest contributor to indoor air pollution. Their combustion release toxic gases like CO and VOCs that render the air unbreathable and induce numerous health ailments. Income is crucial in determining the energy access and its sources. Countries with very-low income tend to rely on conventional sources such as animal excreta, firewood, and crop residues. With a marginal increase in the gross income of a country, the choice of fuel moves to other sources such as coal and charcoal. People residing in rural areas of relatively higher-income also resort to these sources. Only 60% of the total world’s population has access to clean fuels like LPG, ethanol, biogas, and electricity. Therefore, the dependency on solid fuel and the resultant impact is more prominent in low-income countries.
Thus, the need of the hour is to opt for cleaner and greener fuels. For instance, solar-powered cooking is not only inexhaustible but also a cost-effective and sustainable option. It would allow the countries to reach their goals of slashing their footprint effectively (Paris Agreement). It will also be instrumental in improved and pure indoor air quality.
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