Smoke particles are linked to lung infections and pneumonia

Smoke particles linked to lung infectionsAs shared on the ScienceDaily website Scientists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have found that smoke particles created by burning fuel for cooking, light and heat increase the risk of lung infections and pneumonia.This affects an estimated 3 billion people worldwide, in particularly low and middle income countries where bacterial pneumonia is the biggest cause of infant mortality.

The study looked at one of our lungs immune cells called alveolar macrophages which ingest and rid us of particles and bacteria. The article states “The study measured the smoke particle content of the macrophage cells. More smoke exposure was associated with a weaker killing response. The authors conclude that even in healthy people, HAP (household air pollution) can cause weaknesses in the immune function of the lung, which can lead to higher rates of pneumonia.”

Prior to this study the risks associated with HAP were well known but the causes were not. An important question to ask is how do we further limit exposure to these detrimental fine particulates? What steps can a household take to increase ventilation and decrease HAP levels?

Both high and low-tech solutions may be a step in the right direction to lower particulate levels. The development of creative solutions for alternative energy is starting to allow even the lowest income households to reduce their reliance on pollution caused by burning fuels or garbage. Some examples include a wide-variety of very low-cost solar cooking, water-boiling and heating devices. Increasing ventilation with basic hoods and tubing outside of a house is also a simple and straight-forward improvement. There are even the most basic solutions derived from ancient practices such as insulating food for slow-cooking by burying in dirt. Have a look at this bean-bag insulation device that allows food to slow-cook for hours without additional fuel or electricity Wonderbag >>

Aretas has been in initial discussions with a high-efficiency, well-ventilated wood stove manufacturer to supply a simple PM monitoring system. The fine particulates that do escape into a home would be reported on a simple LCD display with alerts letting the occupants know when additional ventilation is required. If a final solution is developed for the low-income market, we will post more about the technology here in the comments. Feel free to send us an email to be notified as new Aretas solutions come to market (insert contact email spam protected here).

Comment and let everyone know what your favorite technologies or solutions are that can lower the creation of or exposure to household air pollution.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. "Links between household air pollution, lung infections examined, including pneumonia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2015.