A new study presented by the European Society of Cardiology suggests that people who cook with solid fuels like wood, charcoal, or coal might face an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Researchers from the University of Oxford examined the connection between the use of solid fuels in cooking and death from cardiovascular disease. The researchers also looked at the potential benefits of using electricity or clean fuel.
The study looked at a group of over 300,000 adults between the ages of 30 and 80 in various regions in China between the years 2004 and 2008. They followed through with mortality data up to the year 2017 by examining hospital records and death registries.
Of their study group, 22 percent cooked with solid fuels for thirty years or more. 24 percent used solid fuels for 10 to 29 years, and 45 percent used solid fuels for 10 years or less. Just under half of the study group never used solid fuels. The researchers adjusted their results to account for other risk factors like smoking and education.
During a follow-up period, the researchers found that 8,303 of the participants had died from cardiovascular conditions consistent with smoke inhalation over long periods of time. They found that for every decade during which participants regularly cooked or were around solid fuel cooking, their chance of dying from cardiovascular disease rose by 3 percent. Those whose exposure extends over thirty years had an increased risk of 12 percent.
Conversely, they found that using cleaner fuels had beneficial effects on the participant’s risk of death. Those who switched to cleaner fuels ten years sooner had a five percent lower risk. Better yet, those who had switched more than 10 years prior enjoyed lower risks similar to those who had never used solid cooking fuels.
The recovery result is especially encouraging. It shows that the lungs and cardiovascular system have a strong ability to recover when given time.
Another study by the World Health Organization found that in the year 2016, household pollution killed over 66,000 children in India under age five. That is 10 percent higher than those killed by outdoor air pollution.
In India, nearly 50 percent of household cooking is done using solid fuels. Women and children spend the most time exposed to smoke from cooking fires and are especially susceptible to the effects of solid fuel smoke. Children, the study noted, also breathe faster than adults and therefore inhale a greater proportion of pollutants when relative body size is taken into consideration.
While the WHO study was compiled from existing data and did not follow live participants, the researchers believe that just like in the China study- those who stop using solid fuels for cooking can experience risk factors equal to those who have never used solid fuels.
In the United States, few people cook with solid fuels on a regular basis. Still, with backyard barbecue taking place every summer in most households, there is some reason to be concerned.
Experts believe that the greatest risk factor for Americans related to cooking may come from overcooking food creating kitchen smoke and the smoke that may arise from built up carbon inside stoves and ovens over long periods of time.
Household pollution is a significant hazard for people all over the world. Household cleaning products, pesticides, pollen, mold, radon, carbon monoxide, and asbestos all present real hazards to people in homes everywhere. Most often, indoor pollution only causes discomfort that can be relieved as soon as the source of the pollution is eliminated. But, all too often, indoor pollutants lead to cancer or cardiovascular disease.
The best ways to guard against these dangers involve making sure your living areas are well ventilated, using air purifiers to clean and circulate the air in your home, and refraining from cooking practices that produce smoke.
Good indoor air quality is also a matter of cleanliness. Vacuuming your carpets on a regular basis is probably the best thing you can do to keep your indoor air clean. Keep your vacuum cleaner clean inside and out to prevent dust from escaping during use.
You can also improve indoor air quality just by keeping the air moving. Running a ceiling fan on low will do the job. Placing a large floor mat by every door will help you to keep from tracking in dust and dirt that become airborne.
Finally, maintaining a healthy humidity of between 30 and 50 percent will help trap particles in the air without encouraging mold.