Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has announced a five-year, $30 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct a field study of household air pollution.
To be conducted in collaboration with the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Colorado State University, the study will examine how cleaner-burning cooking fuel affects household air pollution levels and family health in India, Guatemala, Peru, and Rwanda. Researchers plan to recruit eight hundred pregnant women at each site, half of whom will be randomly assigned to receive liquefied petroleum gas stoves while the other half will use their traditional cooking methods, and will monitor the mothers and their children (in utero) until the children are two years old for exposure to household air pollution. They also will evaluate a variety of health indicators, including children’s birth weight, preterm birth rate, growth, and incidence of respiratory infections, as well as adults’ respiratory symptoms, blood pressure, signs of inflammation, and other indicators of heart disease.
"There is insufficient evidence that the introduction of cleaner stoves leads to significant health benefits. Indeed, previous studies using more efficient biomass-burning stoves have failed to reduce household air pollution and improve health in children and adults," said William Checkley, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins. "This trial’s goal is to provide proof of concept that reduction of household air pollution with a clean (liquefied petroleum gas) fuel stove can improve air quality substantially and result in better health outcomes. Moreover, the broad range of health outcomes that we will assess will provide an unprecedented opportunity to link health and exposure to household air pollution."