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Increased risk of respiratory illness associated with kerosene fuel use among women and children in urban Bangalore, India
  1. Jae-Young Choi1,
  2. Jill Baumgartner2,3,
  3. Sarah Harnden4,
  4. Bruce H Alexander5,
  5. Robert J Town6,7,
  6. George D'Souza8,
  7. Gurumurthy Ramachandran5
  1. 1Division of Business, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea
  2. 2Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  4. 4Division of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  5. 5Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  6. 6Department of Health Care Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  7. 7National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  8. 8Department of Chest Diseases, St John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC 807, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; ramac002{at}umn.edu

Abstract

Background Kerosene is a widely used cooking and lighting fuel in developing countries. The potential respiratory health effects of cooking with kerosene relative to cooking with cleaner fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) have not been well characterised.

Methods We sampled 600 households from six urban neighbourhoods in Bangalore, India. Each household's primary cook, usually the woman of the house, was interviewed to collect information on current domestic fuel use and whether there was any presence of respiratory symptoms or illness in her or in the children in the household. Our analysis was limited to 547 adult females (ages 18–85) and 845 children (ages 0–17) in households exclusively cooking with either kerosene or LPG. We investigated the associations between kerosene use and the likelihood of having respiratory symptoms or illness using multivariate logistic regression models.

Results Among adult women, cooking with kerosene was associated with cough (OR=1.88; 95% CI 1.19 to 2.99), bronchitis (OR=1.54; 95% CI 1.00 to 2.37), phlegm (OR=1.51; 95% CI 0.98 to 2.33) and chest illness (OR=1.61; 95% CI 1.02 to 2.53), relative to cooking with LPG in the multivariate models. Among children, living in a household cooking with kerosene was associated with bronchitis (OR=1.91; 95% CI 1.17 to 3.13), phlegm (OR=2.020; 95% CI 1.29 to 3.74) and chest illness (OR=1.70; 95% CI 0.99 to 2.90) after adjusting for other covariates. We also found associations between kerosene use and wheezing, difficulty breathing and asthma in adults and cough and wheezing in children, though these associations were not statistically significant.

Conclusions Women and children in households cooking with kerosene were more likely to have respiratory symptoms and illnesses compared with those in households cooking with LPG. Transitioning from kerosene to LPG for cooking may improve respiratory health among adult women and children in this population.

  • household air pollution
  • kerosene
  • liquefied petroleum gas
  • respiratory illness
  • India

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