Background: Exposure to household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels in simple stoves is a major health risk. Modeling reliable estimates of solid fuel use is needed for monitoring trends and informing policy.
Objectives: In order to revise the disease burden attributed to household air pollution for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 project and for international reporting purposes, we estimated annual trends in the world population using solid fuels.
Methods: We developed a multilevel model based on national survey data on primary cooking fuel.
Results: The proportion of households relying mainly on solid fuels for cooking has decreased from 62% (95% CI: 58, 66%) to 41% (95% CI: 37, 44%) between 1980 and 2010. Yet because of population growth, the actual number of persons exposed has remained stable at around 2.8 billion during three decades. Solid fuel use is most prevalent in Africa and Southeast Asia where > 60% of households cook with solid fuels. In other regions, primary solid fuel use ranges from 46% in the Western Pacific, to 35% in the Eastern Mediterranean and < 20% in the Americas and Europe.
Conclusion: Multilevel modeling is a suitable technique for deriving reliable solid-fuel use estimates. Worldwide, the proportion of households cooking mainly with solid fuels is decreasing. The absolute number of persons using solid fuels, however, has remained steady globally and is increasing in some regions. Surveys require enhancement to better capture the health implications of new technologies and multiple fuel use.