New Delhi: Shifting to clean fuels from polluting solid ones could significantly lower personal exposure to and indoor concentrations of PM2.5 pollutants and thus, reduce premature deaths linked to PM2.5 pollution, new research published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal said. Developing models to estimate household air pollution (HAP) for 2020, the study estimated average HAP-PM2.5 personal exposure and HAP-PM2.5 indoor concentration by analysing data from 282 peer-reviewed research and updated from the WHO Global HAP dataset.
The models were then used to predict HAP-PM2.5 exposure globally, that included personal exposure in 62 countries and indoor concentration in 69 countries.
Further, the researchers estimated the related attributable death rate per 100,000 population.
In 2020, national-level 24-hour average exposure for one person was found to be 151 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) when using solid fuels. However, the use of clean fuels was found to more than halve it to 69 ug/m3. The related premature mortality (national average) was 78 for the former and 62 for the latter.
Using solid fuels was found to result in an average PM2.5 indoor concentration of 412 ug/m3. Using clean fuels, however, reduced the concentrations to one-third of original levels to 135 ug/m3, the study found. The attributable premature death rate reduced from 78 (solid fuels) to 59 (clean fuels).
Exposures from traditional stoves in rural and urban settings were much higher than those from improved stoves, the study results showed.
Thus, the study said, improved stove interventions could potentially reduce HAP-PM2.5 exposure, particularly in rural settings, the implementation of which could be challenging owing to sociocultural household traditions. Such interventions would have to be flexible and tailored to their needs, preferences and specific culture.
Transitioning to clean fuels could potentially reduce the national-level HAP-PM2·5 personal exposure on average by 53 per cent and indoor concentration by 65 per cent, the study said.
The transition, however, is challenging and affected by income, education, household size, fuel availability, location, and other sociodemographic factors, the study said.
For India, the present study estimated the average HAP-PM2.5 indoor concentration in India as 450 ug/m3 for rural and 155 ug/m3 for urban settings, with the overall national level as 315 ug/m3.
Previous studies had estimated overall national levels of indoor concentrations at 600 ug/m3 and 450 ug/m3, the study said, because they had sourced their data from only the India National Family and Health Survey 2015 and not from the WHO dataset.
The overall national level average personal exposure for India as 137 ug/m3, the study said, with yearly average estimated death rate (per 100,000 population) as 108.
The results also suggested that shifting to clean fuels could lower death rates attributable to HAP-PM2.5 by more than 20 per cent.
Individual behaviour such as tobacco smoking and housing features also impact HAP, the study said, which are not typically captured in the monitored data.
Policy interventions are urgently needed to greatly increase the use of clean fuels and stove technologies by 2030 to achieve the goal of affordable clean energy access (as set by the UN in 2015) and address health inequities in urban-rural settings, the study said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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