Household air pollution (HAP) from indoor burning of biomass or coal is a leading global cause of morbidity and mortality, mostly due to its association with acute respiratory infection in children and chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in adults. Interventions that have significantly reduced exposure to HAP improve health outcomes and may reduce mortality. However, we lack robust, specific, and field-ready biomarkers to identify populations at greatest risk and to monitor the effectiveness of interventions. New scientific approaches are urgently needed to develop biomarkers of human exposure that accurately reflect exposure or effect. In this Perspective, we describe the global need for such biomarkers, the aims of biomarker development, and the state of development of tests that have the potential for rapid transition from laboratory bench to field use.
Keywords: air pollution; biomarkers; exposure; global health.