What's cooking tonight?

Cooking smoke can increase the risk of catching tuberculosis

Published: Wednesday 28 February 2001

in houses where biomass is used as cooking fuel, the adult members of the family face the risk of tuberculosis. The prevalence of active tuberculosis is 3.6 times higher among adults in households using biomass fuels than among adults in other households shows a recent study. The term 'biomass fuel', as used in this study includes the use of wood or dung. The study says that if everybody uses cleaner fuels, the incidence of tuberculosis among people aged 20 and above in India could be reduced by half (International Journal of Infectious Diseases , Vol 3(3), No 119).

The study uses data from India's National Family Health Survey for 1992-93. The survey had collected health-related information from a sample of 88,562 households in India, including more than half a million people. Researchers worked on the data to delineate the affect of ten other factors, besides the type of fuel used, which could correlate with the incidence rate of tuberculosis.

Analysis revealed that the women in houses using biomass fuels were the most vulnerable to the dreaded disease. The risk for catching tuberculosis is increased by more than two times for women working in households using biomass fuels. This figure is greater than the risk increase in case of men.This revelation is along expected gender lines as women are more exposed to cooking smoke in India. The lot of the rural population also came out to be worse. Adults in rural households using wood or dung are 2.6 times more at risk from suffering from tuberculosis. In the urban areas the people at increased by 2.3 times.

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