Cooking: Use of Polluting Fuels Poses Health Risks, UN Agency Warns

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Uniyed Nations

By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Breathing in polluting fuels while cooking causes diseases such as heart conditions, stroke, cancer, chronic lung illnesses and pneumonia, a new global data on the use of clean and polluting fuels for cooking by fuel types has found.
The new data discovered that one-third of the global population or 2.6 billion people worldwide still remain without access to clean cooking. 
The above information was contained in a news statement titled: “WHO Publishes New Global Data on the Use of Clean and Polluting Fuels for Cooking by Fuel Types,” issued by World Health Organization (WHO) on 20th January 2022.  
“The use of inefficient, polluting fuels and technologies is a health risk and a major contributor to diseases and deaths, particularly for women and children in low- and middle-income countries,” WHO highlighted. “It makes cooking with polluting fuels one of the largest environmental contributors to ill health.”
Shedding further light on the extent of the problem, WHO recently released new data on the use of different types of fuels used for cooking at global, regional and country levels.

“Breathing the smoke produced from cooking with polluting fuels can lead to heart diseases, stroke, cancers, chronic lung diseases and pneumonia. 
“Unfortunately, millions of people continue to die prematurely every year from household air pollution, which is produced by cooking with inefficient stoves and devices paired withwood, coal, charcoal, dung, crop waste and kerosene, WHO stated. 
It expressed concern, stressing that without rapid action to scale up clean cooking, the world will fall short of its goal to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030.

“WHO’s Air Quality and Health Unit is supporting countries to address household air pollution by providing normative guidance, tools and advice to tackle the issue,” the international authority on public health explained. 
It said the unit also monitors and reports on global trends and changes in health impacts of air pollution at national, regional and global levels.  
According to the UN agency, such estimates are used for official reporting like the World Health Statistics, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
While expantiating on use of clean and polluting fuels for cooking by fuel type, WHO pointed out that access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking is distributed unevenly across the globe. 
It declared: “From 2010-2019, the rate of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies only increased by about 1.0% per year.
“Much of this increase was due to improvements in clean cooking access in the 5 most populous low- and middle-income countries – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan; the rate in other low- and middle-income countries has seen little change.”

WHO just published new data in its Global Health Observatory including detailed global, regional and country estimates of the percentages and number of people using polluting or clean fuels between years 1990 and 2020 with a focus on six fuel types: electricity, gaseous fuels, kerosene, biomass, charcoal, and coal. 
The data also included urban versus rural disaggregation, the global agency on health disclosed
“The results show that the number of people mainly using polluting fuels for cooking declined from more than half of the global population in 1990 to 36% in 2020,” the UN organ for good health narrated. 
WHO clarified that while gaseous cooking fuels dominate in urban areas, biomass fuels are still common in rural populations.
It said that the reliance on electricity for cooking is growing in urban contexts. 

According to WHO, current estimates project that one-third of the global population will continue to use polluting fuels in 2030, with the majority residing in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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