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Understanding household demand for indoor air pollution control in developing countries

  • Design
  • Medicine


More than 2 billion people rely on solid fuels and traditional stoves or open fires for cooking, lighting, and/or heating. Exposure to emissions caused by burning these fuels is believed to be responsible for a significant share of the global burden of disease. To achieve widespread health improvements, interventions that reduce exposures to indoor air pollution will need to be adopted and consistently used by large numbers of households in the developing world. Given that such interventions remain to be adopted by large numbers of these households, much remains to be learned about household demand for interventions designed (in part at least) to reduce indoor air pollution. A general household framework is developed that identifies in detail the determinants of household demand for indoor air pollution interventions, where demand for an intervention is expressed in terms of willingness to pay. Household demand is shown to be a combination of three terms: (1) the direct consumption effect; (2) the child health effect; and (3) the adult health effect. While micro-level data are not available to estimate directly this model, existing data and information are used to estimate just the health effects component of household demand. Based on such existing information, it might be concluded that household demand should seemingly be strong given that willingness to pay, based on existing information, is seemingly large compared to costs for common interventions like improved stoves. Given that household demand is not strong for existing interventions, this analysis shows that more clearly focused research on household demand for interventions is needed if such interventions are going to be demanded (i.e. adopted and used) by large numbers of households throughout the developing world. Four priority areas for future research are: (1) improving information on dose-response relationships between indoor air pollution and various health effects (e.g. increased mortality and morbidity risks); (2) improving information on impacts from interventions in terms of air pollution reductions and also cooking times, fuel use, and heat intensities; (3) improving information on household shadow values for improved health, with separate information for adult and child health; and (4) considering more directly household information, and its adequacy, for their ability to evaluate the relationships between fuel use and health.

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