Exposure to smoke from open fires causes two million deaths every year.
Open fires and rudimentary cooking techniques cause damaging and deadly health risks for nearly three billion around the world, and kills millions of people in developing countries. The simple act of cooking for the family is the fourth worst risk factor for disease in developing countries and contributes about 4% to the global burden of disease, due to severe emissions of fine particles, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants.
Frequent exposure to indoor air pollution may lead to severe health risks such as:
- Diseases and disorders including chronic coughs, cancers of the lungs, mouth, and throat, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cataracts, and other ailments.
- Dangers to children including low birth weight and pneumonia.
- Specific risks to women including pregnancy complications and maternal mortality.
- Second and third degree burns.
Because of their roles in the home, women and children are most heavily affected by exposure by the dangers of working around unsafe cooking mechanisms. With the proper use of cookstoves and ventilation, these health risks can be greatly reduced and the overall quality of life improved for people and their families across the world.
The EWB-GT Cookstove project was born from an increasing awareness of the problem of indoor air pollution and a rising concern from students to find an affordable and sustainable solution.
Since 2012, Cookstoves has been working closely with Hands for Americas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing relief and sustainable development to indigenous communities in Panama. HFA has been critical to learning the socio-cultural context of the community such as current mechanisms for cooking, types of food eaten, quality of life, and possible challenges to educating the community of the risks and dangers of cooking over open fires. HFA’s guidance will help ensure the successful implementation and sustainability of the cookstoves project in Panama.
“Reach the unreached.” – Hands for Americas ©
Because the Cookstoves is not a “one size fits all” project, research includes a variety of designs that are easy to understand and recreate to guarantee the best solution is found for the community in Panama. The team regularly builds and tests different stove designs on campus and analyzes the emissions rates in a laboratory setting. The objective is to find a design that improves these factors relative to a three stone open fire:
- Time to boil
- Carbon monoxide emissions
- Particulate matter emissions
- Fuel efficiency