Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Words from Kara

This passege was written by Kara Lee Francis concerning Indoor Air Polution

It's been dubbed "the silent killer," and rightly so. The World
Health Organization reports that indoor air pollution accounts for
over 4,000 deaths per day. That's one person every 20 seconds--the
majority of whom are women and children.

In Central and South America, Africa, China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia,
3.2 billion people still burn coal and solid biomass fuel--things like
animal dung, wood, and crop residues--to cook and heat their homes.
Women who labor over stoves for much of the day, and children who eat,
play, and sleep in the same room as a traditional stove or open fire,
are exposed each day to carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and
other harmful particles at levels that can be as high as 500 times
what's considered safe.

Yet much of the world remains unaware of the problem--especially the
women and children most affected by it. Stopping this silent killer
is one of the UN's Millenium Development Goals, and this summer the
WHO and UN increased the intensity of their calls for international
investment in cleaner-burning household fuels. George Soros announced
last week that part of the $50 million he recently donated to Jeffrey
Sach's grand Africa experiment will pay for stoves that reduce indoor
air pollution.

The good news: It's relatively easy to fix. The bad news, for people
all over the world, is that indoor air pollution isn't as well known
as other leading causes of death, such as AIDS or malaria. It's an
issue that deals with global health, culture, deforestation, global
warming, and technology*--and one that desperately needs attention,
especially if it remains one of the three leading causes of death
among children under five.

*Households that rely on solid fuels typically devote several hours
each day to fuel collection and have limited access to adequate
lighting--both of which restrict upward economic movement. And
communities that rely on wood for fuel contribute to deforestation and
global warming, as inefficient wood-burning stoves release large
amounts of methane, which is far more harmful to the atmosphere than
carbon dioxide. But I know of several organizations (American,
Bolivian, German) that are working to bring cleaner wood stoves and
(this is the cool part) solar-powered cookers to impoverished