Impact of Behavior on a Burning Problem: Improved Cookstove Adoption and PM Exposure

EPA Grant Number: FP917479
Title: Impact of Behavior on a Burning Problem: Improved Cookstove Adoption and PM Exposure
Investigators: Lewis, Jessica Jaslow
Institution: Duke University
EPA Project Officer: Zambrana, Jose
Project Period: August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2015
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Atmospheric Sciences , Academic Fellowships


Households with high levels of indoor air pollution from traditional cookstoves often also are exposed to dangerous outdoor and occupational air pollution. Individual choices and behavior, such as education or the decision to adopt an improved cookstove (ICS), have the potential to confound exposure and attribution estimates, but these factors generally are omitted from exposure studies. To truly understand exposure, this research merges an exposure study (attribution of personal, indoor and outdoor exposure) with behavioral change and implementation science research (statistical analysis of variation between households that adopt or do not adopt ICS, as well as exposed and unexposed populations) to understand who adopts ICS and why.


This research will take place in India, where 90 percent of rural households burn biomass for cooking. By partnering with a behavioral research study of ICS interventions (including information campaigns and social marketing), this air study will merge empirical data on household decisions to adopt with indoor, outdoor and personal particulate matter (PM) measurements, thus providing the closest possible estimate of true PM exposure. This study will quantify stove usage and adoption using temperature loggers, and will take three 24-hour PM measurements (indoor, outdoor and personal) using portable nephelometers at two points in time (baseline and 1 year later) in the sample population. This study will compare the air pollution exposure of individuals (primary cooks) who are using improved stoves and clean fuels to observationally equivalent individuals who are using traditional chullahs and dirty fuels.

Expected Results:

ICS has the potential to decrease indoor air pollution, but the fraction of pollution exposure that indoor sources provide is poorly understood. Decisions made by a household (e.g., whether to use the stove), the type of stove and fuel, and manner of using the stove moderate the potential benefits of an ICS. This study will generate onsite confirmation of how differences between adopting and non-adopting households can be used to specify and estimate a theoretical model of stove adoption.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

The broader impacts of this project include general lessons for indoor air pollution, personal exposure and ICS dissemination and uptake. The proposed research quantitatively will document which variables influence ICS adoption and pollution exposure and thereby allow careful estimation of households’ true exposure to PM from biomass fuels in developing countries.

Supplemental Keywords:

improved cookstove, indoor air pollution, personal exposure

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2013
  • 2014
  • Final