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Estimating the Avoidable Global Burden of Disease Associated with Household Air Pollution

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Pardee Institute for International Futures

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recent article from the Pardee Center investigates the avoidable burden of disease associated with household air pollution (HAP), an unfolding global epidemic due to the use of household cookstoves. The authors believe stand-alone solutions may prove attractive in some regions while others may fare better with liquid-fuel solutions and regulatory efforts to control risks of ambient air pollution.

The rapid uptake of modern stoves, along with ongoing epidemiological transitions in regions like South and Southeast Asia, underscores the importance of avoidable HAP risk and of “broader efforts to quantify disease control policies.” As policymakers consider the rollout of moderately efficient, “clean” solid-fuel stoves (as opposed to gas or electric fuel grids with high fixed costs), the report concludes, “The window for low-cost public action against HAP may have already closed in Southeast Asia, may be closing quickly in South Asia, and is open for a relatively short period in Sub-Saharan Africa.” 

The project—funded in part by Population Services International—used historical data to forecast potential future impacts in the International Futures model (IFs). For this study, researchers used the IFs model to develop a method and interface which will be useful for policy-relevant estimates, considering ongoing processes of development, broader ranges of diseases and risk factors, and comparative risk analysis. The report underscores the policy significance of calculating avoidable burden in addition to attributable burden.

The findings of this study were published at PLOS ONE, the multidisciplinary open-access journal of scientifically vigorous research. Other funders include the University of Denver and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures. Analysis for this paper was based on scenarios created in the International Futures (IFs) integrated forecasting system. To facilitate replication of our results, the authors have made the IFs output data for this study available here

The authors are Randall Kuhn (Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies), Dale S. Rothmans, Sara Turner, José Solórzano, and Barry Hughes (Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies).

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