Household and community poverty, biomass use, and air pollution in Accra, Ghana

Type Journal Article - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Title Household and community poverty, biomass use, and air pollution in Accra, Ghana
Volume 108
Issue 27
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 11028-11033
Many urban households in developing countries use biomass fuels for cooking. The proportion of household biomass use varies among neighborhoods, and is generally higher in low socioeconomic status (SES) communities. Little is known of how household air pollution varies by SES and how it is affected by biomass fuels and traffic sources in developing country cities. In four neighborhoods in Accra, Ghana, we collected and analyzed geo-referenced data on household and community particulate matter (PM) pollution, SES, fuel use for domestic and small-commercial cooking, housing characteristics, and distance to major roads. Cooking area PM was lowest in the high-SES neighborhood, with geometric means of 25 (95% confidence interval, 21–29) and 28 (23–33) µg/m3 for fine and coarse PM (PM2.5 and PM2.5–10), respectively; it was highest in two low-SES slums, with geometric means reaching 71 (62–80) and 131 (114–150) µg/m3 for fine and coarse PM. After adjustment for other factors, living in a community where all households use biomass fuels would be associated with 1.5- to 2.7-times PM levels in models with and without adjustment for ambient PM. Community biomass use had a stronger association with household PM than household's own fuel choice in crude and adjusted estimates. Lack of regular physical access to clean fuels is an obstacle to fuel switching in low-income neighborhoods and should be addressed through equitable energy infrastructure.

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