Kerosene raises pneumonia risk among kids, says study

KATHMANDU, APR 10 – The use of kerosene, sometimes considered a ‘modern’ and ‘clean’ household fuel for cooking purposes, is an increasing risk factor for pneumonia and other Acute Lower Respiratory Infection among children aged below five years, a new study suggests.
The findings of a research titled ‘Acute Lower Respiratory Infection in Childhood and Household Fuel Use in Bhaktapur,’ published last month in the Environmental Health Perspective, the world’s leading environmental health journal, said kerosense, along with solid fuel like biomass, animal dung and crop waste, was also found contributing to the increasing level of household air pollution and considered one of the major risk factors for pneumonia, one of the leading causes of death among young children.
The study conducted by a team of national and international experts between May 2006 and June 2007 among children in the Bhaktapur municipality found that as compared with children who used electric cooking stoves, the risk of pneumonia among biomass and kerosene stove users was about two times higher, with around 18 percent of the pneumonia attributed to the use of the fuel.
Meanwhile, when this study was conducted in Bhaktapur, an equal proportion of the respondents using four major types of cooking stoves—biomass, kerosene, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and electricity.
Prakash Sundar Shrestha, one of the researchers and a professor at the Department of Child Health, Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital, said a large scale study needs to be conducted at the national level to find out more comprehensive effects of kerosene on people, particularly women and children who spend a longer time in the kitchen.
According to him, a few epidemiologic studies have tried to find out whether kerosene is a possible risk factor for any respiratory disease in the country.
Amod K Pokhrel, another Nepali author and researcher of the study, said the new evidence showing the use of kerosene as a risk factor for pneumonia is unique and that it raises a question on whether subsidy on the fuel is justified. The government has been providing subsidy on kerosene for students and the rural population. Due to poor access to cleaner energy sources like solar, bio-gas and electricity, the rural prefecture of the country use kerosene as fuel for cooking and lighting. The latest census shows that over 60 percent of the total population in the country is still dependent on traditional energy sources for cooking, heating and lighting purposes.
Posted on: 2013-04-11 08:36

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