Effects of Household Air Pollution
Long-term exposure to household air pollution is associated with the same health effects as exposure to outdoor PM2.5. These include an increased risk of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lower-respiratory infections (such as pneumonia), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and adverse birth outcomes. Household air pollution is also associated with the development of cataracts.
The vast majority of deaths attributed to household air pollution occur in Africa and Asia.
Long-term exposure to household air pollution from the burning of solid fuels for cooking contributed to 2.31 (95% UI: 1.63 to 3.12) million deaths in 2019, about 4% of all global deaths.
Most of the 2.31 million deaths are accounted for by just three GBD Super Regions: South Asia (36%), sub-Saharan Africa (30%), and Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania (28%). They reflect global patterns of household air pollution exposure, death rates, and population size. China and India, despite declining exposure and death rates attributable to household air pollution, together account for about 42% of global household air pollution deaths owing to their large exposed populations.
Deaths from household air pollution have fallen over the past decade.
Total deaths attributable to household air pollution fell by 23.8% (95% UI: –32.3 to –15.5) over the past decade. Age-standardized mortality rates dropped by 37.5% (95% UI: –44.0 to –31.1).
Most of the decline was seen in GBD Super Regions where the proportion of the populations using solid fuels and the related mortality rates are highest — sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania.
This downward trend reflects a combination of reduced use of solid fuels and improvements in treatment and survival for air pollution-related diseases. In the case of household air pollution, those two factors have more than offset the effects of growing and aging populations.
Despite this progress, the health burden of household air pollution remains high. Among 69 risk factors included in the GBD that are considered to be potentially modifiable, household air pollution ranks 9th in the number of attributable global deaths.
Interventions and development have drastically reduced exposures in China and India.
Declines in solid fuel use reflect years of efforts to move to cleaner energy sources, as well as broader development and urbanization that have made that process easier.
China and India have seen the most dramatic reductions in deaths attributable to household air pollution over the past decade. In China, large-scale efforts have focused on replacing coal-burning cookstoves with cleaner devices. In India, access to clean fuels (i.e., liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG) has been expanded across the country.
Over the past decade, the two countries together saw a reduction of over 440,000 deaths attributable to household air pollution.
Ozone is also a greenhouse gas. This means it contributes to global warming, creating a feedback loop that leads to more ozone — and more warming — on a global scale.