Exposure to household air pollution
Situation and trends
People’s exposure to indoor air pollution is determined by the concentrations of pollutants in the indoor environment (mainly determined by the type of fuel and stove used for cooking, and the kitchen location) and, most importantly, by the time that individuals spend in polluted environments. Indoor smoke contains a variety of health-damaging pollutants:
- particles (complex mixtures of chemicals in solid form and droplets)
- carbon monoxide
- nitrous oxides
- sulphur oxides (mainly from coal)
- carcinogens (chemical substances known to increase the risk of cancer) such as benzo[a]pyrene and benzene.
Small particles with a diameter of 10 microns (PM10) or less are able to penetrate deep into the lungs and appear to have the greatest health-damaging potential.
As a proxy to estimate the concentration of health-damaging pollutants present in people's house, the proportion of the population using solid fuels for cooking is used.