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Burning firewood causes respiratory diseases in children

Woman cooking with a makeshift wood-burning stove in Cameroon

Trees for the Future / Wikimedia Commons

A lack of access to clean, safe cooking fuel could be behind hundreds of thousands of cases of illness and death every year in developing countries (including Brazil) as a result of respiratory problems. It is estimated that in 2018 alone, 205,000 children under the age of 5 died due to lower respiratory tract problems caused by indoor air pollution (The Lancet Global Health, October). Led by Robert Reiner Jr. of the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, an international group of hundreds of researchers used data from 2.1 million households in 98 low- and middle-income countries to estimate how often solid fuels (firewood) were used for cooking and the level of domestic pollution generated, then quantified the impact of this pollution on children’s health. The results suggest that around 590 million people in these countries depend exclusively on firewood for cooking. According to projections, many of these nations will not meet the goal of achieving universal access to clean cooking fuel by 2030.