11 NOV 2011
A new study finds that reducing exposure to smoke from open fires and wood-burning cook stoves significantly reduces the incidence of pneumonia, the leading of death for children five and under indeveloping countries. In an assessment of families in the western highlands of Guatemala, researchers found a one-third reduction in severe pneumonia diagnoses among children in homes with smoke-reducing chimneys compared with homes that use dirtier, poorly ventilated stoves, which are the primary source of cooking and heat for 3 billion people, or 43 percent of the global population. “The amount of smoke exposure babies were getting from the open woodfire stoves is comparable to having them smoke three to five cigarettes a day,” said Kirk Smith, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley and principal investigator of the study, published in the journal The Lancet. “The chimney stoves reduced that smoke exposure by a half, on average.” Another new study, published in the journal NeuroToxicology, found a link between prenatal maternal exposure to woodsmoke and lower performance in neurodevelopmental tests for school-aged children.