WHO released Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Household Fuel Combustion

World Health Organisation released first-ever guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion.

Created On: Nov 13, 2014 18:21 ISTModified On: Nov 13, 2014 18:24 IST

World Health Organisation (WHO) on 12 November 2014 released Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Household Fuel Combustion. These guidelines are the first-ever guidelines released by WHO highlighting the threat of burning fossil fuels in home.

These guidelines stresses the need to improve access to cleaner home energy sources such as liquefied petroleum gas, biogas, natural gas and ethanol, or electricity, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The aim of these guidelines is to help countries introduce cleaner technologies, improve air quality in poor households, reduce pollution-related diseases and save lives.

WHO set targets for reducing emissions of health-damaging pollutants from domestic cook stoves, space heaters and fuel-based lamps.  In order to meet the new targets, there needs to be rapid scale-up in access to cleaner and more modern cooking and heating appliances, as well as lamps, in developing country homes.

Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality
• It sets new emissions targets for different kinds of domestic appliances, for both carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.
• It recommends halting the use of unprocessed coal as a household fuel. Coal contains toxic elements such as arsenic, lead and mercury.
• The use of kerosene as a household fuel is also discouraged amid concerns around its adverse impact on air quality and safety. Kerosene is also associated with burns, fires and poisoning.
• People need to scale up the use of clean fuels such as biogas, ethanol, or natural or liquefied petroleum gas with appropriate venting, as well as solar electricity solutions for lighting.

Emission targets
The guidelines include emissions targets for different kinds of domestic appliances, for both carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.

Carbon monoxide
• Appliances with hoods or chimneys: no more than 0.59 g/min.
• Unvented stoves, heaters and fuel-based lamps; no more than 0.16 g/min.

Fine particulate matter
Fine particulate matter is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles consisting mainly of sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.
• Appliances with chimneys or hoods: no more than 0.80 milligrams/minute (mg/min).
• Unvented stoves, heaters and fuel-based lamps: no more than 0.23 mg/min.

Why the need for such a guidelines?
Nearly 3 billion people worldwide still lack access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting.
Millions of people die each year as a result of household air pollution; 34 percent are due to stroke, 26 percent to ischaemic heart disease, 22 percent to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 12 percent to childhood pneumonia and 6 percent to lung cancer.

The above diseases are primarily caused by high levels of fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide released by the burning of solid fuels such as wood, coal, animal dung, crop waste and charcoal in inefficient stoves, space heaters, or lamps.

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