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Wood stoves in poor countries worse than expected for global warming

Wood stoves in poor countries worse than expected for global warming

Wood stoves in poor countries worse than expected for global warming
mongabay.com
October 24, 2006


Wood stoves used in developing countries emit more harmful smoke particles and could have a much greater impact on global climate change than previously thought, according to research published in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study’s lead authors, Dr. Tami Bond of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and graduate student Christoph Roden, estimate that some 400 million of these stoves are used on a daily basis for cooking and heating by more than 2 billion people.



A battery-operated sampling system measures emissions from a traditional wood stove in Honduras. The portable system, developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, found these stoves emit more harmful smoke particles and could have a much greater impact on global climate change than previously thought. Photo courtesy of Chris Roden.


Bond and Roden say that not only do the stoves produce two times more heat-absorbing smoke particles than expected, but they also contribute to health problems including eye infections and tuberculosis.

“Emissions from wood cook stoves affect the health of users — especially of women and children — neighborhood air quality, and global climate,” said Bond. “Reducing these emissions, through the use of cleaner burning stoves and fuels, should have far-reaching benefits.”



The researchers say that less polluting and more fuel efficient stoves could help improve health while fighting global warming.



“Designing and distributing improved cook stoves may be an effective method of mitigating global climate change, and can improve the health of the users,” Roden said. “However, the cook stoves must be well designed and properly tested. They must be built with local traditions and practices in mind and must be easy to use, or they may become expensive doorstops.”



Many carbon offset programs currently involve renewable energy cooking stoves in developing countries. Typically, people in industrialized countries can “offset” their personal emissions by contributing money to organizations that fund these programs.





This article is based on a news release from the American Chemical Society