Long-term cooking with charcoal or coal linked to an increased risk of death

People who use solid fuels for cooking, such as coal, wood, or charcoal, may have an increased chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

This suggestion comes from the study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2018 by researchers from the University of Oxford in the U.K. In the study, the researchers looked at the association between solid fuel use for cooking and cardiovascular death. They also examined the potential effect of switching from solid to clean fuel, such as electricity and gas.

For the study, the team recruited 341,730 adults aged 30 to 79 years from 10 areas in China from 2004 to 2008. They interviewed the participants on how often they cooked and what main fuel they used in their three most recent homes. Then, they estimated the duration of exposure to solid fuels.

They restricted the analysis to those who cooked at least weekly at their three most recent residences and did not have cardiovascular disease. The team gathered data on mortality up to January 1, 2017 from death registries and hospital records.

Based on the interviews, 22.5 percent of the participants had primarily used solid fuels for cooking for 30 years or longer, 24.6 percent for 10 to 29 years, and 53 percent for less than 10 years. Among those who used solid fuels for less than 10 years, 45.9 percent of them never used solid fuels in their most recent three homes and 49.1 percent had switched from solid to clean fuels during this period. The researchers also adjusted the results for other cardiovascular risk factors, such as education and smoking.


During the follow-up period, 8,304 participants died from cardiovascular disease. For every decade of solid fuel exposure, there was a three percent higher risk of cardiovascular death. Participants who had used solid fuels for 30 years or more were 12 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to those who had used them for less than 10 years.

The researchers also saw that using clean fuels was linked to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to using solid fuels for a long time. Switching 10 years earlier from solid to clean fuels was linked to a five percent lower risk of cardiovascular death. Moreover, those who switched for 10 years or more had risks comparable to persistent clean fuel users.

With these findings, the team concluded that long-term use of solid fuels for cooking was linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular death, while changing to electricity or gas weakened the effect of previous solid fuel use. This suggested that the negative impact of previous solid fuel use may be reversed or weakened.

Indoor air pollution caused thousands of deaths in under five-children in India, according to WHO study

Household air pollution killed 66,800 children under five years of age in India in 2016, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is 10 percent more than the 60,900 deaths of under-five children caused by outdoor air pollution in the same year.

In India, almost half of the household population use solid fuel for cooking. Women and children in India spend most of their time being exposed to smoke from cooking fires, which results in indoor concentrations of some pollutants that are five or six times the levels in outdoor air. (Related: Solar cooking 101: Harnessing the sun for health, wealth, and a clean environment.)

Children, especially during fetal development and in their earliest years, are vulnerable and susceptible to air pollution. They also breathe faster than adults, and when they are exposed to polluted air, they are also more likely to take in more air pollutants. This increases their risk of inflammation and other damage caused by pollutants.

Globally, acute respiratory infections caused by air pollution are the second largest cause of death in children below five years old, after premature birth, according to the study.

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