wood smoke in the third world

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wood smoke in the third world

Postby Limey » Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:33 pm

Many homes in poorer countries do not have chimneys. They usually do not need one in a warm climate. When it comes to cooking, they often do it indoors with the door open but over an open wood fire. The result is that at least 1.6 million die each year as a result, more than from malaria.

A report on indoor wood smoke can be found here:

http://practicalaction.org/?id=smoke_index
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Postby begreen9 » Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:31 pm

I'm going to assume that this is not meant as a comment on domestic wood burning. If it is, it has missed the mark. There is barely a thread of connection.

However, if it's meant to raise awareness of the conditions of poverty, then kudos Limey. We need to pay a lot more attention to the basic needs of the 3d world and harp a lot less on our well off country's air. There is no comparison. There are a lot of simple ideas that would make a huge difference in the well being of people in these countries. Simple smoke hoods, clay flues, even basic education will help. Be sure to contribute generously to Practical Action and other groups working on effective change in the third world.
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Postby Limey » Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:41 pm

Somehow I missed this reply.
The whole point of the death toll in under developed counties is that it demonstrates that wood smoke is a potent killer. This group do experience high levels of exposure to pollutants due to inadequate ventilation but populations in developed countries are still exposed to levels which are high enough to increase death rates.

Wood smoke is a killer. It is that simple.
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Postby woodburner » Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:54 am

This just in, burning wood and not using a chimney is harmful for your health. In other news standing on your roof with your face over the chimney is not good for you. Also note that you should not touch things that are hot, eat glass, or stab yourself in the stomach with a knife.
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Postby FriendofAir » Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:06 am

WoodBurner,

So what you're saying is kind of like... it's much better to be 50 feet away at the far end of a swimming pool than it is to have your head directly under someone urinating in it.

I would agree with you on that, but the better choice would be not having to swim in a pool that has people urinating in it.
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Postby Limey » Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:09 am

Yes, I do realise that the use of chimneys to dissipate smoke greatly reduces exposure to pollutants. It also greatly reduces death rates. But the key question is: How much does it reduce death rates by?

Take the analogy with cigarettes. A population whose members smoke 40 cigarettes a day has a high death rate as a consequence. A population whose members smoke only 4 a day has a much lower death rate.

Ask yourself this question: Is smoking 4 cigarettes a day OK?
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Postby woodburner » Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:17 am

FriendofAir wrote:WoodBurner,

So what you're saying is kind of like... it's much better to be 50 feet away at the far end of a swimming pool than it is to have your head directly under someone urinating in it.

I would agree with you on that, but the better choice would be not having to swim in a pool that has people urinating in it.


The earth's atmosphere is a very very big pool.
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Postby FriendofAir » Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:33 am

woodburner wrote:The earth's atmosphere is a very very big pool.


It's big, but apparently not big enough. The atmosphere, as big as it is, becomes compromised when you have hundreds of millions or billions of people doing what they do.

On a macro level, if I am sitting at a table with a cigarette smoker, the atmosphere is not big enough. It's the same when my neighbors burns a pile of wood and I am subject to the effects of the smoke.

So whether your head is directly over the chimney or down wind at bit, you're still in the pool, in the fewer people urinating in the pool the better.
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