Indoor air pollution from biomass combustion and respiratory symptoms of women and children in a Zimbabwean village.


Journal Article

UNLABELLED: Rural areas of developing countries are particularly reliant on biomass for cooking and heating. Women and children in these areas are often exposed to high levels of pollutants from biomass combustion that is associated with a range of respiratory symptoms. Domestic exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) and respirable particles (RSPs) in association with respiratory symptoms among women and children in Zimbabwe was investigated in 48 households. Health status and household characteristics were also recorded. In this study, indoor levels of CO and RSPs exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines in over 95% of kitchens. The level of indoor air pollutants was associated with the area of kitchen windows and the length of cooking time combined with the level of fire combustion. Prevalence of respiratory symptoms was 94% for women and 77% for children. In addition, women reporting respiratory symptoms were exposed to higher levels of RSPs when compared with those reporting no respiratory symptoms. The study results indicated that levels of indoor air pollutants in rural Zimbabwe may contribute to respiratory symptoms in both women and children. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Levels of respirable particles and carbon monoxide in kitchens in rural Zimbabwe are unacceptably high and measures to reduce levels should be undertaken. Based on the study findings, recommendations for increasing the area of kitchen windows may be considered as a practical method of reducing indoor air pollutants in rural Zimbabwe.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rumchev, K; Spickett, JT; Brown, HL; Mkhweli, B

Published Date

  • December 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 468 - 474

PubMed ID

  • 18045271

Pubmed Central ID

  • 18045271

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0905-6947

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2007.00494.x


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England