Box 42.4Household Effects of China's National Improved Stove Program

In 2002, an independent multidisciplinary evaluation was undertaken by a team of U.S. and Chinese researchers to evaluate (a) implementation methods used to promote improved stoves; (b) commercial stove production and marketing organizations that were created; and (c) effects of the program on households, including health, stove performance, socioeconomic factors, and monitoring of indoor air quality. The first two objectives were assessed through a facility survey of 108 institutions at all levels. The third objective was assessed through a household survey of nearly 4,000 households in three provinces: Zheijang, Hubei, and Shaanxi. Key findings were as follows:

  • The household survey revealed highly diverse fuel usage patterns: 28 and 34 different fuel combinations were used in kitchens in winter and summer, respectively. Most households owned at least one or more coal and one or more biomass stoves. Of the biomass stoves 77 percent, but only 38 percent of the coal stoves, were classified as improved. On average, improved stoves had a mean efficiency of 14 percent, which is well below the program target of between 20 and 30 percent, but above the mean efficiency of 9 percent for traditional stoves.
  • With respect to air quality (measured with PM4, the "thoracic fraction" of particulate matter, and CO), coal stoves showed significantly higher concentrations than biomass stoves during the summer, but not during the winter. Among households using biomass fuels (but not among households using combinations of fuels that included coal or LPG), improved stoves showed significantly lower PM4 and CO concentrations than traditional stoves.
  • In both children and adults, coal use was associated with higher levels of exposure (as measured by CO in exhaled breath) and improved biomass stoves with lower levels. Reported childhood asthma and adult respiratory disease were negatively associated with use of improved stoves and good stove maintenance. These results should, however, be treated as indicative because of limited sample size.

Overall, several important conclusions emerge with relevance to future improved stove programs:

  • A wide range of combinations of different fuel and stove types may limit the effect of an improved stove program.
  • Given the importance of space heating, making available an improved biomass stove for cooking may not be a sufficient strategy to reduce IAP. Improved coal stoves need to be promoted among rural Chinese households.
  • Even among households using improved stoves, PM4 and CO levels were higher than Chinese national indoor air standards, implying that a large fraction of China's rural population is still chronically exposed to pollution levels substantially above those determined by the Chinese government to harm human health.
    Source: Authors, based on Sinton and others 2004.

From: Chapter 42, Indoor Air Pollution

Cover of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries
Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition.
Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors.
Copyright © 2006, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank Group.

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