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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


KIMEMIA, D; VAN NIEKERK, A  and  SEEDAT, M. Paraffin dangers and health and socioeconomic consequences: Urgent need for policy action. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.1, pp.17-19. ISSN 2078-5135.

Illuminating paraffin (kerosene) is the primary cooking fuel for approximately two million South Africans. The highly flammable and toxic fuel is burnt in poorly made stoves that are prone to malfunction and are associated with accidental fires, burns and household air pollution. However, the fuel continues to be used as it is easily decanted, widely available in neighbourhood outlets, perceived as affordable, and often the only available option for low-income urban settlements. It is anticipated that increased and enforced home congestion during COVID-19 lockdowns will exacerbate exposure of homebound families to unsafe energy, especially during the cold winter months. Based on an accumulation of evidence on the health and socioeconomic impacts of paraffin, this article advocates for its expedited phase-out and substitution with safer energy.

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