Over 60 per cent of homes in World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Region still use solid fuel for cooking. In India, this amounts to some 700 million people.

"Member States now need to develop national databases on household fuel use and emissions and design programmes aimed at encouraging the use of improved cooking stoves, fuels and good cooking practices," Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia said adressing representatives of member states to target the implementation of the new Guidelines for indoor air quality here today.

She said the plan advocates for a transition to cleaner stove technologies and fuels, including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), bio-gas, solar coolers, electricity and low-fume fuels such as methanol and ethanol.

"We must act to protect people from air pollution. The poor, living near busy roads or industrial sites, are disproportionately affected by air pollution. Women and children pay the heaviest price, as they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from cooking stoves.

"Half the deaths due to pneumonia in children aged less than five years can be attributed to household air pollution making it a leading risk factor for childhood deaths," said Khetrapal Singh.

Exposure to air pollutants, especially fine particulate matter, is a leading risk factor for noncommunicable disease in adults, causing ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic pulmonary disease and lung cancer, making air pollution the main avoidable environmental cause of disease and premature
death globally.

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