United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion

Publication Year: 2014 Publisher: World Health Organization


Related Goals


Almost 3 billion of the world’s poorest people still rely on solid fuels (wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal) burned in inefficient and highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating, currently resulting in some 4 million premature deaths annually among children and adults from respiratory and cardiovascular
diseases, and cancer. Together with widespread use of kerosene stoves and lamps, these household energy practices also cause many deaths and serious injuries from scalds, burns and poisoning.

The use of solid fuel for heating in more developed countries is also common and contributes significantly to air
pollution exposure. Air pollution from household fuel combustion is the most important global environmental health risk today.

These new guidelines bring together the most recent evidence on fuel use, emission and human exposure levels, health risks, intervention impacts and policy considerations, to provide practical recommendations to reduce this health burden, which build on existing WHO air quality guidelines (AQGs) for specific pollutants. Implementation of these recommendations will also help secure the additional benefits to society, development and the environment – including climate – that will result from wider access to clean, safe and efficient household energy.