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Indoor air quality and exposure assessment from biomass fuel burning in traditional and advanced cookstoves

Student Name: Ms Deepti Sharma
Guide: Prof. Suresh Jain
Year of completion: 2019


Exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP) due to incomplete combustion of solid biomass fuels (SBFs) for daily cooking needs in rural household‘s accounts for significant effect on global health burden. In view of that, the study investigates the impact of increased levels of IAP caused due to biomass burning in the rural households of Northern India. Firstly, a primary survey was conducted to identify the key variables affecting indoor air quality (IAQ), followed by selection of sampling households. A comparative assessment of the impact of traditional cookstoves (TCS) and improved cookstoves (ICS) coupled with the characteristics of kitchen was conducted to estimate the PM (PM10, PM2.5, PM1), CO/CO2, concentrations along with temperature and relative humidity in the microenvironments of kitchen and living area of the households. The study incorporated both extensive and intensive real-time IAQ monitoring during cooking (cooking hours including morning and evening meal) and non-cooking hours i.e. 24-h as well as 8-h average concentration of pollutants. Influence of the three types of kitchen characteristics, i.e., enclosed, semi-enclosed and open was also comprehensively analyzed to measure its impact on the IAQ. In addition to this, the IAQ was further used to evaluate the particle size distribution (PSD), respiratory tract deposition and exposure index to assess its impact on health status of the exposed group including women involved in cooking practices. The results of the study highlighted that deployment of ICS would help in improving the IAQ of the kitchen area by resulting in reducing the concentrations of PM10, PM2.5, PM1 and CO by 21-62%, 20- 80%, 24-87% and 19-93%, respectively. Moreover, the study also developed a multivariate regression model to predict PM1 concentration during cooking hours for TCS and ICS across three kitchen categories. Added to this, PM exposure index in terms of PM10 and PM2.5 also showed significant reduction in kitchen area to about 39% and 48% by the replacement of cookstove, respectively. Furthermore, similar variations were also found on chemical characterization of PM relating to personal black carbon (BC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concentration during cooking hours. The reduction in personal BC concentration during cooking hours in all studied households ranged from 36% to 85% in case of BC10 while the reduction was varying from 33% to 89% in case of BC2.5. Moreover, significant variation has also been observed in PAHs concentration with respect to different types of kitchen by 75% (p value = 0.004), 86% (p=0.01) and 90 % (p value = 0.02) in case of enclosed, semi-enclosed and open kitchens, respectively. The estimated life time carcinogenic risk was highest in case of women cooking meals in enclosed kitchens compared to semi-enclosed and open kitchens while using TCS and ICS, respectively. Additionally, the study indicated a strong impact of user‘s activity and actual time spend in cooking on personal inhalation exposure in all the kitchens. Thus, in order to measure the impact of time-activity pattern on exposure levels of the participants, it is imperative to measure the exact time users spend near to source. Overall, the results advocated that apart from the technological advancement, there is also a need to aware and guide the people regarding importance of ventilation in the kitchen area, user‘s movement during cooking time i.e. decreases the direct inhalation exposure and preventive measures to be taken to reduce health risk. Conclusively, the study has provided complete overview of personal exposure assessment based on actual field conditions with respect to different field variables identified in the region. Therefore, results of the study would help researchers and policy makers to understand various determinants or factors impacting the IAQ for assessing personal exposure not only by technical advancements but also the social-cultural values by developing effective interventions that would benefit the targeted population.

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