Worldwide, by cooking, heating and lighting with conventional fuels, more than 3 billion people are exposed to it inside their own homes. There are fuels, such as wood, charcoal, coal, animal dung and the wheat straw and corn cobs that make up farm waste, that can be collected locally and burned on an open fire.
The smoke produced by these fires – otherwise known as black carbon – is rich in soot. These dark particles absorb the sun’s UV radiation and warm the atmosphere, leading to climate change.
But that’s not where the problem stops. Black carbon is just one portion of PM2.5 – a particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres emanating, among other sources, from vehicle exhausts, factory furnaces and open fires. These small particles can damage the heart and lungs once inhaled, exacerbating symptoms of asthma and leading to heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and lung cancer. Guidelines determining when indoor air is no longer safe to breathe have been established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and one goal suggests restricting the concentrations of these small particles to 35 micrograms per cubic metre.
Inputs from all africa