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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

On-line version ISSN 2413-3051
Print version ISSN 1021-447X

J. energy South. Afr. vol.22 n.3 Cape Town  2011


The impact of health behaviour change intervention on indoor air pollution indicators in the rural North West Province, South Africa



Brendon BarnesI; Angela MatheeII; Elizabeth ThomasIII

ISchool of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences - Urban, Environmental, and Leisure Studies, London South Bank University, UK
IIEnvironment and Health Research Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa
IIIMedical Research Council of South Africa based at the Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa




Indoor air pollution has been associated with a number of health outcomes including child lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Behavioural change has been promoted as a potential intervention strategy but very little evidence exists of the impact of such strategies on actual indoor air pollution indicators particularly in poor rural contexts. The aim of this study was to evaluate a community counselling intervention on stationary levels of PM10 and carbon monoxide (CO) as well as CO measured on children younger than five. Using a quasi-experimental design, baseline data was collected in an intervention (n=36) and a control (n=38) community; the intervention was implemented in the intervention community only; and follow-up data was collected one year later amongst the same households. Despite the fact that indoor air pollution was reduced in both communities, the intervention group performed significantly better than the control group when stratified by burning location. The net median reductions associated with the intervention were: PM10=57%, CO=31% and CO (child)=33% amongst households that burned indoor fires. The study provides tentative evidence that a health behaviour change is associated with reductions in child indoor air pollution exposure. The intervention is relatively inexpensive and easy to replicate. However, more powerful epidemiological studies are needed to determine the impact on health outcomes.

Keywords: indoor air pollution, health behaviour, child respiratory health, North West Province, South Africa



Full text available only in pdf format.



The first author would like to thank the Carnegie Foundation for the generous support in the form of a time off-grant to write up aspects of this study.



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Received 18 December 2009
Revised 13 January 2011

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