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Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Oct;121(10):1120-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1206429. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Health and household air pollution from solid fuel use: the need for improved exposure assessment.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.



Nearly 3 billion people worldwide rely on solid fuel combustion to meet basic household energy needs. The resulting exposure to air pollution causes an estimated 4.5% of the global burden of disease. Large variability and a lack of resources for research and development have resulted in highly uncertain exposure estimates.


We sought to identify research priorities for exposure assessment that will more accurately and precisely define exposure-response relationships of household air pollution necessary to inform future cleaner-burning cookstove dissemination programs.


As part of an international workshop in May 2011, an expert group characterized the state of the science and developed recommendations for exposure assessment of household air pollution.


The following priority research areas were identified to explain variability and reduce uncertainty of household air pollution exposure measurements: improved characterization of spatial and temporal variability for studies examining both short- and long-term health effects; development and validation of measurement technology and approaches to conduct complex exposure assessments in resource-limited settings with a large range of pollutant concentrations; and development and validation of biomarkers for estimating dose. Addressing these priority research areas, which will inherently require an increased allocation of resources for cookstove research, will lead to better characterization of exposure-response relationships.


Although the type and extent of exposure assessment will necessarily depend on the goal and design of the cookstove study, without improved understanding of exposure-response relationships, the level of air pollution reduction necessary to meet the health targets of cookstove interventions will remain uncertain.

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