Personal child and mother carbon monoxide exposures and kitchen levels: methods and results from a randomized trial of woodfired chimney cookstoves in Guatemala (RESPIRE)

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2010 Jul;20(5):406-16. doi: 10.1038/jes.2009.30. Epub 2009 Jun 17.


During the first randomized intervention trial (RESPIRE: Randomized Exposure Study of Pollution Indoors and Respiratory Effects) in air pollution epidemiology, we pioneered application of passive carbon monoxide (CO) diffusion tubes to measure long-term personal exposures to woodsmoke. Here we report on the protocols and validations of the method, trends in personal exposure for mothers and their young children, and the efficacy of the introduced improved chimney stove in reducing personal exposures and kitchen concentrations. Passive diffusion tubes originally developed for industrial hygiene applications were deployed on a quarterly basis to measure 48-hour integrated personal carbon monoxide exposures among 515 children 0-18 months of age and 532 mothers aged 15-55 years and area samples in a subsample of 77 kitchens, in households randomized into control and intervention groups. Instrument comparisons among types of passive diffusion tubes and against a continuous electrochemical CO monitor indicated that tubes responded nonlinearly to CO, and regression calibration was used to reduce this bias. Before stove introduction, the baseline arithmetic (geometric) mean 48-h child (n=270), mother (n=529) and kitchen (n=65) levels were, respectively, 3.4 (2.8), 3.4 (2.8) and 10.2 (8.4) p.p.m. The between-group analysis of the 3355 post-baseline measurements found CO levels to be significantly lower among the intervention group during the trial period: kitchen levels: -90%; mothers: -61%; and children: -52% in geometric means. No significant deterioration in stove effect was observed over the 18 months of surveillance. The reliability of these findings is strengthened by the large sample size made feasible by these unobtrusive and inexpensive tubes, measurement error reduction through instrument calibration, and a randomized, longitudinal study design. These results from the first randomized trial of improved household energy technology in a developing country and demonstrate that a simple chimney stove can substantially reduce chronic exposures to harmful indoor air pollutants among women and infants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis*
  • Cooking / instrumentation*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoke / analysis
  • Wood
  • Young Adult


  • Smoke
  • Carbon Monoxide