Cooking fuel smoke and respiratory symptoms among women in low-income areas in Maputo

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Sep;104(9):980-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.104-1469451.


The association between exposure to air pollution from cooking fuels and health aspects was studied in Maputo. Mozambique. Almost 1200 randomly selected women residing in the suburbs of Maputo were interviewed and 218 were monitored for air pollution. The fuels most commonly used were wood, charcoal, electricity, and liquified petroleum gas (LPG). Wood users were exposed to significantly higher levels of particulate pollution during cooking time (1200 micrograms/m3) than charcoal users (540 micrograms/m3) and users of modern fuels (LPG and electricity) (200-380 micrograms/m3). Wood users were found to have significantly more cough symptoms than other groups. This association remained significant when controlling for a large number of environmental variables. There was no difference in cough symptoms between charcoal users and users of modern fuels. Other respiratory symptoms such as dyspnea, wheezing, and inhalation and exhalation difficulties were not associated with wood use. Reducing wood use would likely improve acute respiratory health effects in wood users and possibly improve the ambient air pollution conditions in Maputo. To reduce the health impact of wood smoke exposure, it appears that the least costly and quickest method would be to encourage charcoal use to a greater extent, although high carbon monoxide levels would have to be addressed. Turning to modern fuels is beyond the means of most these households in the short term and could not be shown to be more effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Charcoal / adverse effects
  • Cooking
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mozambique
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Social Class
  • Wood


  • Smoke
  • Charcoal