Columbia University Medical Center

CUMC Researchers Highlight Dangerous Indoor Air Pollution

Reprinted with permission from Elsevier (The Lancet, 2011, Vol 378)

“The public health implications are potentially monumental,” say CUMC’s Rachel Miller and Cara Agerstrand about efforts to replace wood fires with chimney stoves in homes in the Guatemalan Highlands. Indoor air pollution from burning solid fuels is one of the top 10 global health problems, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Miller, MD, and Agerstrand, MD, comment in the Nov. 12, 2011, Lancet on RESPIRE, the Randomised Exposure Study of Pollution Indoors and Respiratory Effects. The study found that children in homes with chimney stoves had fewer incidents of severe pneumonia, but not of pneumonia overall.

Miller and Agerstrand point out that household air pollution interventions are likely to lower the overall incidence of pneumonia only if they reduce exposure substantially. They praise the scope of the RESPIRE trial, saying that it “provides important new data that can help to guide much needed remedies” for the high rates of childhood mortality caused by the use of solid fuels.