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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

versão On-line ISSN 2413-3051
versão impressa ISSN 1021-447X

J. energy South. Afr. vol.20 no.1 Cape Town  2009


Household energy, indoor air pollution and child respiratory health in South Africa



Brendon BarnesI; Angela MatheeII; Elizabeth ThomasIII; Nigel BruceIV

ISchool of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand; and Environment and Health Research Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa
IIEnvironment and Health Research Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa
IIICentre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand; and Medical Research Council of South Africa
IVDepartment of Public Health, University of Liverpool, England




Indoor air pollution due to the indoor burning of polluting fuels has been associated with Acute Lower Respiratory Infections (ALRI) amongst children less than five years old. This paper reviews evidence of the association between household energy, indoor air pollution and child ALRI in South Africa. Studies show evidence consistent with the international literature with the likelihood of ALRI between 2 and 4 amongst children living in households using polluting fuels compared to households using electricity. Indoor air pollution is responsible for the deaths of up to 1 400 children annually. Interventions have demonstrated 46 - 97% lower pollution concentrations compared to open fires. However, the sustainability of selected interventions has been questioned in certain contexts. The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and highlights opportunities for further research.

Keywords: household energy, indoor air pollution, child ARI, interventions



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Received: 15 June 2008