Indoor air pollution and women’s health
Respiratory ailments caused by indoor air pollution plague many rural residents of Puno, where biomass in the form of dung and straw is still the main source of energy for households, accounting for 60 to 90 percent of cooking and heating. Women and young children are at greatest risk because their household responsibilities—principally cooking and child care– result in high exposure to pollutants from unventilated stoves and fireplaces. The smoke from hearths poses serious health hazards due to acute and chronic exposure to particulates (PM10), sulfure and nitrous oxides (SO2, NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), fluoride (coal), aldehydes and para amino hydrocarbons (PAH). The Chijnaya Foundation is currently conducting a pilot phase of a program promoting the installation of improved stoves. These stoves reduce exposure to indoor air pollution and can be built for approximately $90 per unit. The Foundation has made loans for improved stoves to over 300 households in the communities of Chijnaya, Tuni Requena, Tuni Grande, Llijillica, and Huancarani. Residents manufacture adobes and pair them with manufactured chimney materials purchased by the foundation and construct the stoves under the supervision of a visiting technician from the department capital of Puno. By funneling smoke and particulate matter out of enclosed areas and sealing off heat sources around the edges of cooking pots, the stoves should conserve fuel, heat efficiently, and reduce risk of burns from open flames.
The Foundation's improved stoves project is evolving. An assessment of the project to date by Loma Linda University Global Health students and faculty found that families are uniformly enthusiastic about adopting the improved technology, recognizing its health benefits. Some early adopters of improved stoves, however, found that rust formed in their chimney pipes, and the Foundation is studying alternative designs using bricks and concrete for chimney construction. When this research is completed, the Foundation will be replacing the metal chimneys for families that experienced problems while implementing a superior design for households who build new stoves in the future.