Adverse health impacts of cooking with kerosene: A multi-country analysis within the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology Study
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BACKGROUND: Kerosene, which was until recently considered a relatively clean household fuel, is still widely used in low- and middle-income countries for cooking and lighting. However, there is little data on its health effects. We examined cardiorespiratory effects and mortality in households using kerosene as their primary cooking fuel within the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. METHODS: We analyzed baseline and follow-up data on 31,490 individuals from 154 communities in China, India, South Africa, and Tanzania where there was at least 10% kerosene use for cooking at baseline. Baseline comorbidities and health outcomes during follow-up (median 9.4 years) were compared between households with kerosene versus clean (gas or electricity) or solid fuel (biomass and coal) use for cooking. Multi-level marginal regression models adjusted for individual, household, and community level covariates. RESULTS: Higher rates of prevalent respiratory symptoms (e.g. 34% [95% CI:15-57%] more dyspnea with usual activity, 44% [95% CI: 21-72%] more chronic cough or sputum) and lower lung function (differences in FEV1: -46.3 ml (95% CI: -80.5; -12.1) and FVC: -54.7 ml (95% CI: -93.6; -15.8)) were observed at baseline for kerosene compared to clean fuel users. The odds of hypertension was slightly elevated but no associations were observed for blood pressure. Prospectively, kerosene was associated with elevated risks of all-cause (HR: 1.32 (95% CI: 1.14-1.53)) and cardiovascular (HR: 1.34 (95% CI: 1.00-1.80)) mortality, as well as major fatal and incident non-fatal cardiovascular (HR: 1.34 (95% CI: 1.08-1.66)) and respiratory (HR: 1.55 (95% CI: 0.98-2.43)) diseases, compared to clean fuel use. Further, compared to solid fuel users, those using kerosene had 20-47% higher risks for the above outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Kerosene use for cooking was associated with higher rates of baseline respiratory morbidity and increased risk of mortality and cardiorespiratory outcomes during follow-up when compared to either clean or solid fuels. Replacing kerosene with cleaner-burning fuels for cooking is recommended.
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