Indoor air pollution

Randomized controlled trial in Guatemala

While the links between exposure to indoor air pollution and various health outcomes in children and adults have been clearly established, the scientific evidence for the health benefits of interventions to reduce indoor air pollution is very limited.

improved stove
The Plancha (improved stove)

In order to address this weakness, WHO is supporting an intervention study in the rural highlands of western Guatemala, led by a team from the Universities of del Valle (Guatemala City), Berkeley (USA), and Liverpool (UK) and funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences. This randomized controlled trial directly measures, for the first time, the change in the incidence of acute lower respiratory infections in young children after the introduction of improved stoves.

The 500 households enrolled in this study are randomly assigned to receive either the plancha (improved stove) or no intervention (in the control households). A combination of weekly and more infrequent home visits are used to measure pollution and personal exposure levels, and to assess a range of important health outcomes in children and women of child-bearing age.

In recognition of the importance of household energy to a wide range of social, economic and other issues that impact on women’s lives and wellbeing, the study will also assess the impact of the intervention on daily time and activity allocations, cooking practices and related issues.