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EPA Study Advances Clean Cookstove Technology

EPA Study Advances Clean Cookstove Technology

Findings Help to Address Global Health Problem and Environment

EPA researcher fueling a cookstove

EPA researcher fueling a cookstove

The results of an EPA study are benefiting global public health and the environment by providing extensive cookstove data on air emissions and energy efficiency. As an international leader in cookstove testing, EPA supports development of clean sustainable cookstove technology and efforts to establish international testing standards and protocols.

Traditional open fires and rudimentary cookstoves that burn wood, dung, charcoal, coal, crop residues and other biomass fuels are used by some 3 billion people, especially women and children, worldwide. As a result they are exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants that cause approximately 2 million premature deaths annually and a wide range of illnesses such as pneumonia and low-birth weight in children, and lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blindness, and heart disease in adults.

The study, published by Jetter and colleagues in the October issue (19) of Environmental Science & Technology, is the most extensive independent study done to date worldwide to analyze emissions and energy efficiency of cookstoves. The research supports the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Exit EPA Disclaimer a public-private partnership that is promoting and marketing clean cooking solutions.

Jetter receives regular requests for EPA's data on cookstove testing from other researchers, governments, manufacturers and others. "There is a huge demand for independent and good quality results from cookstove tests," he said.

Researchers tested 22 cookstoves using a wide variety of fuels. They measured emissions of air pollutants (including carbon monoxide, particulates, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon) that cause harmful health effects and contribute to climate change. Researchers found considerable differences in the amount of air pollutants emitted and in energy efficiency. Among the many key findings of the study, the researchers found that emissions from some advanced cookstove technologies are significantly lower than the "3-stone" open fire approach, which is the most widely used worldwide.

The ongoing cookstove research is providing an important part of the science needed to address climate change. Traditional cookstoves contribute to climate change, accounting for approximately 20 percent of black carbon emissions worldwide. Black carbon is a "short-lived climate forcer" that is being targeted to mitigate climate change. The United States is also impacted by cookstove use as air pollution can be transported across continents.

A third study under way will provide additional information on cookstoves, including solar cookers for the first time.  Work has been supported by the EPA-led Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Exit EPA Disclaimer (now integrated with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves).  For further information on EPA’s cookstove testing, see the PCIA Bulletin, Pages 2 and 20 (PDF) (24 pp, 1.3MB) Exit EPA Disclaimer. ES&T paper available to subscribers only. Exit EPA Disclaimer

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