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Your Environment. Your Health.

Cookstoves With Chimneys Can Help Reduce Severe Childhood Pneumonia

Kirk R Smith, Ph.D.
University of California-Berkeley
NIEHS Grant R01ES010178


An NIEHS grantee working with rural communities in Guatemala found that rates of severe childhood pneumonia were reduced by 30 percent in households using cooking stoves with chimneys rather than open, indoor wood cooking fires. The findings suggest that interventions that lower exposure to wood smoke may help reduce childhood deaths from pneumonia in areas of the world where indoor open fires are commonly used.


The results come from the NIH Randomized Exposure Study of Pollution Indoors and Respiratory Effects (RESPIRE) trial, which included 534 rural Guatemala households with a pregnant woman or young infant. The households were randomly assigned to receive a locally developed chimney stove or to act as a control by using open wood fires. In addition to the reduction in severe pneumonia, the researchers found that carbon monoxide exposure levels in the homes equipped with chimneys were, on average, half that of the households with the open fires. The stoves with chimneys did not significantly reduce the total number of diagnosed childhood pneumonia cases, but the reduction in severe pneumonia would likely reduce childhood mortality.

Citation: Smith K, McCracken J, Weber M, Hubbard A, Jenny A, Thompson L, Balmes J, Diaz A, Arana B, Bruce N. Effect of reduction in household air pollution on childhood pneumonia in Guatemala (RESPIRE): a randomised controlled trial. 2011 Nov 12. The Lancet 378(9804): 1717-1726.

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