Indoor air pollution

Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion

Almost 3 billion people, in low- and middle-income countries mostly, still rely on solid fuels (wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal) burned in inefficient and highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating. In 2012 alone, no fewer than 4.3 million children and adults died prematurely from illnesses caused by such household air pollution, according to estimates by the World Health Organization.

Together with widespread use of kerosene stoves, heaters and lamps, these practices also result in many serious injuries and deaths from scalds, burns and poisoning.

These new indoor air quality guidelines for household fuel combustion aim to help public health policy-makers, as well as specialists working on energy, environmental and other issues understand best approaches to reducing household air pollution -- the greatest environmental health risk in the world today.

Recommendations, general to specific

The recommendations include general considerations for policy, a set of four specific recommendations, and a best-practice recommendation addressing linked health and climate impacts.

Among the general considerations, or overarching advice, is that policies should promote community-wide action, and that the safety of new fuels and technologies must be assessed rather than assumed.

Support for implementing guidelines

and areas of implementation

Solid evidence underpins findings

Building on existing WHO guidelines for indoor air quality on selected pollutants, the new guidelines are informed by the best available evidence, including newly commissioned or published, systematic reviews.

Press release

(Available in Ar, Ch, En, Fr, Ru, Sp)
12 November 2014 -- WHO recommendations, released today, highlight the dangers of burning fuels like unprocessed coal and kerosene in the home, and set targets for reducing emissions of health-damaging pollutants from domestic cookstoves, space heaters and fuel-based lamps.

Contact us: