Background: The use of biomass fuel for cooking in traditional cookstove designs negatively affects respiratory health of communities in developing countries. Indoor pollution affects particularly women and children, who are participating in food preparation. The effects of smokeless cookstove designs on indoor pollution are well documented, but few studies exist to assess the effects of improved stove designs on the respiratory health of community members.
Methods: This study uses peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) measurements in a before-and-after format to assess respiratory function of inhabitants of all 30 houses of Buenas Noches in central Honduras. PEFRs are measured before and 6 months after the installation of Justa stoves in people's homes. Health behaviors, respiratory symptoms and fire wood use are evaluated in a door-to-door survey format.
Results: A total of 137 eligible women and children between 6 and 14 years participated in the study. PEFR improved by 9.9-18.5% (P < 0.001) depending on the participants' exposure to indoor pollution. Health complaints like cough and behaviors like clinic visits did not change with the introduction of smokeless cookstove technology.
Conclusions: Smokeless stoves improve respiratory health in an environment of high levels of indoor pollution.
Keywords: air pollution; children; communities.
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