Household air pollution is a leading risk factor for mortality globally, accounting for an estimated 2.9 million deaths annually in 2015. It is a major cause of pneumonia, the leading killer of young children in low-income settings; it is also believed to contribute to low birth weight and restricted linear growth in children and to increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular and respiratory effects in adults. The main source of household air pollution is indoor cooking and heating on traditional stoves using solid fuels, such as wood, coal and charcoal. Globally, three billion people still cook or heat with open fires or traditional stoves using solid fuels.
Now, $30 million in funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health with partial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will support a multi-country randomized controlled field trial to assess the impact of cleaner burning cooking stoves on household air pollution and health in four low- and medium-income countries.
The study is led by Dr. Thomas Clasen, professor of environmental health at Rollins School of Public Health, along with Dr. Jennifer Peel, professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University, and Dr. William Checkley, associate professor of medicine, international health, and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
The research team will establish trial sites in India, Guatemala, Peru, and Rwanda that will each recruit 800 pregnant women into the study. Half of the 3,200 participating households will be randomly assigned to receive liquefied petroleum gas stoves and the other half will serve as controls using their customary cooking practices.
Participating households will be followed for 30 months with extensive monitoring of stove use and personal exposure to household air pollution, as well as extensive assessments of health outcomes including birth weight, preterm birth, growth and respiratory infections in children and respiratory function, blood pressure, inflammation and other indicators of heart disease in adults.
“The implementation of these common protocols in our four diverse trial sites should provide policymakers with the information they need in order to make decisions about scaling up clean cooking,” says Dr. Peel.
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