Indoor air quality in the rural India
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to assess the exposure of cooks in rural India (55 households) to the indoor air pollution levels emitted from burning of different fuels, i.e. cow dung, wood, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and propane natural gas(PNG) kerosene for cooking purposes. Design/methodology/approach - Indoor air quality was monitored during cooking hours in 55 rural households to estimate the emissions of PM10, PM2.5, CO, NO2, VOCs and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). While, PM10 and PM2.5 were monitored using personal dust samplers on quartz filter paper, CO and VOCs were monitored using on line monitors. The PM10 and PM2.5 mass collected on filter papers was processed to analyse the presence of PAHs using GC. Findings - Results revealed that cow dung is the most polluting fuel with maximum emissions of PM10, PM 2.5, VOCs, CO, NO2 and Benzene followed by wood and kerosene. Interestingly kerosene combustion emits the highest amount of PAHs. Emissions for all the fuels show the presence of carcinogenic PAHs which could be a serious health concern. The composition of LPG/PNG leads to reductions of pollutants because of better combustion process. LPG which is largely propane and butane, and PNG which is 90 per cent methane prove to be healthier fuels. Based on the results, the authors suggest that technological intervention is required to replace the traditional stoves with improved fuel efficient stoves. Practical implications - The prevailing weather condition and design of the kitchen in these rural houses severely affect the concentration of pollutants in the kitchen as winter season combined with inadequate ventilation leads to reduced dispersion and accumulation of air pollutants in small kitchens. Originality/value - The present study provides a detailed analysis of impact of widely-used cooking practices in India. Even today, countries such as India rely on biomass for cooking practices exposing the cooks to high level of carcinogenic pollutants. Further, women and girls are the most threatened group as they are the primary cooks in these rural Indian settings. Based on the results, the authors suggest that technological as well as policy intervention is required to replace the traditional stoves with improved fuel efficient stoves.