Objective: To determine whether respiratory symptoms and chronic bronchitis are associated with the use of biomass fuels (BMFs) among women residing in rural areas of the Ekiti State, in southwestern Nigeria.
Methods: From January to June of 2009, we carried out a cross-sectional study including 269 adult women. To collect data on sociodemographic status, type of fuel used for cooking in the household, respiratory symptoms, and smoking history, we used a questionnaire adapted from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. All of the participants were invited to undergo spirometry.
Results: Of the 269 women in the study, 161 (59.9%) used BMFs for cooking. The proportion of women who reported respiratory symptoms was greater among those using BMFs than among those using a non-BMF-cough (13.7% vs. 3.7%); wheezing (8.7% vs. 2.8%); chest pain (7.5% vs. 1.9%); breathlessness (11.8% vs. 6.5%); nasal symptoms (9.3% vs. 4.6%); and chronic bronchitis (10.6% vs. 2.8%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the use of BMFs was associated with the following variables: cough (OR = 4.82; p = 0.01); chronic bronchitis (OR = 3.75; p = 0.04); wheezing (OR = 2.22; p = 0.23); chest pain (OR = 3.82; p = 0.09); breathlessness (OR = 1.54; p = 0.35); and nasal symptoms (OR = 2.32; p = 0.20). All of the spirometric parameters evaluated (FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC ratio, and PEF) were lower in the women using BMFs than in those using a non-BMF.
Conclusions: Our results underscore the need for women using BMFs in their households to replace them with a nontoxic type of fuel, such as electricity or gas.