Household air pollution caused by biomass fuel used for cooking is associated to a range of diseases, according to report published in the ‘Lancet Respiratory Medicine’.
A biotechnologist-turned-public health researcher, 33-year-old Rutuja Patil, who wrote the cover story for December 1 edition of the journal said that there should be collective steps to reduce the domestic use of biomass fuels.
“Household air pollution from biomass fuel used for cooking is associated with 2.4 of 5.6 million cases of chronic bronchitis, 0.3 of 0.76 million cases of TB, 5.07 of 51.4 million cases of cataract among adult Indian women, and 0.02 of 0.15 m stillbirths across India,” Rutuja, who is also pursuing her PhD in respiratory health at the Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) unit,University of Edinburgh, told The Indian Express.
Presently involved in an Indian Council of Medical Research project to study to assess the challenges faced by LPG distributors and recipients under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in tribal areas of Pune district. Rutuja said that Lancet Respiratory Medicine had planned a series of photographs which depict how respiratory health is affected.
The pictures and report by this investigator at Vadu Rural Health Program, KEM Hospital Research Centre highlights how an acquaintance Usha Deokar who stays at a village Dhamangaon in the Vidharba region of Buldhana preferred home-cooked food on the Chulha more than that cooked on the LPG stove as the firewood is free. Although she knows that LPG is smoke free, using it regularly is expensive for her, Rutuja explained.
“An LPG stove is a prized possession, which she uses only on rare occasions. She was not aware that household air pollution caused by the use of biomass is one of the major risk factors for a range of diseases, including respiratory diseases and cataracts. Women, who are the primary cooks in the region, are largely affected, and, at times, even the children who accompany their mother in the kitchen. Despite this fact, nearly half of the world’s population still depend on the use of biomass for domestic cooking. We collectively need to take steps to reduce the pollution caused by the domestic use of biomass fuels,” said Rutuja whose film ‘Annapurna’ to promote the use of clean cooking fuel among pregnant women, won a National Award at the 8th Indian National Science Film Festival 2018.