Researchers Uncover Challenges in Implementing Cleaner Cookstoves in the Field

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Julian Marshall

Getting people in developing countries to warm up to cleaner cookstoves is, quite literally, more challenging than initially thought. New research by a team that includes UW CEE Professor Julian Marshall indicates that indoor household air pollution levels were only slightly lower for families who were given new, cleaner cookstoves when compared to traditional stoves.

The study was undertaken in rural India, where cleaner stoves were implemented with the goal of reducing household air pollution, which contributes to climate change and results in up to 10% of the mortality in low and middle income countries.

Although initial studies in the laboratory indicated that the cleaner-burning stoves could reduce a family’s consumption of wood fuel by 67 percent, the study found no significant change in fuel consumption for families who used traditional stoves or cooked over open fires when compared to the new stoves. Real world adoption of the new cookstoves was less straightforward than originally anticipated for a variety of reasons. Of the families included in the study, about 40 percent chose to continue using the traditional stoves, especially when preparing traditional meals.

The research paper was published in June 2016 in Environmental Science & Technology.

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