Biomass fuel use and the exposure of children to particulate air pollution in southern Nepal
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The exposure of children to air pollution in low resource settings is believed to be high because of the common use of biomass fuels for cooking. We used microenvironment sampling to estimate the respirable fraction of air pollution (particles with median diameter less than 4 μm) to which 7-9 year old children in southern Nepal were exposed. Sampling was conducted for a total 2649 h in 55 households, 8 schools and 8 outdoor locations of rural Dhanusha. We conducted gravimetric and photometric sampling in a subsample of the children in our study in the locations in which they usually resided (bedroom/living room, kitchen, veranda, in school and outdoors), repeated three times over one year. Using time activity information, a 24-hour time weighted average was modeled for all the children in the study. Approximately two-thirds of homes used biomass fuels, with the remainder mostly using gas. The exposure of children to air pollution was very high. The 24-hour time weighted average over the whole year was 168 μg/m(3). The non-kitchen related samples tended to show approximately double the concentration in winter than spring/autumn, and four times that of the monsoon season. There was no difference between the exposure of boys and girls. Air pollution in rural households was much higher than the World Health Organization and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Nepal recommendations for particulate exposure.
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