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Environmental Assessment

Respiratory Epidemiology of Household Air Pollution Exposures in Developing Countries

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Acute and chronic respiratory diseases impose a huge public health burden in the developing world. A large and growing body of scientific evidence indicates that household air pollution exposures contribute substantially to this burden. The most important source of indoor air pollution in developing countries is unvented burning of biomass fuel and coal at the household stove. Indoor air pollution concentrations from such burning can be hundreds or thousands of times higher than outdoor concentrations in western countries. To date, unvented biomass fuel burning has been implicated in many non-malignant respiratory disorders, including acute lower respiratory infections in children, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cor pulmonale in adults (especially women), tuberculosis, and deficits in mechanical lung function. Indoor coal smoke exposure, studied to data mainly in China, has been associated with both lung cancer and non-malignant respiratory disorders.

Mary Ross
  • by phone at:   919-541-5170
  • by fax at:   919-541-0237
  • by email at:  ross.mary@epa.gov


Chapman, R. Respiratory Epidemiology of Household Air Pollution Exposures in Developing Countries. Presented at International Conference on Environmental and Occupational Respiratory Diseases, Lucknow, India, October 29-November 2, 2000.

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