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WHO SUFFERS FROM INDOOR AIR POLLUTION? EVIDENCE FROM BANGLADESH
Susmita Dasgupta, Mainul Huq, M. Khaliquzzaman, Kiran Pandey, David Wheeler The World Bank

ABSTRACT

In this paper, we investigate individuals’ exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP). Using new survey data from Bangladesh, we analyze exposure at two levels: differences within households attributable to family roles, and differences across households attributable to income and education. Within households, we relate individuals’ exposure to pollution in different locations during their daily round of activity. We find high levels of exposure for children and adolescents of both sexes, with particularly serious exposure for children under 5. Among prime-age adults, we find that men have half the exposure of women (whose exposure is similar to that of children and adolescents). We also find that elderly men have significantly lower exposure than elderly women. Across households, we draw on results from our previous paper, which relate pollution variation across households to choices of cooking fuel, cooking locations, construction materials and ventilation practices. We find that these choices are significantly affected by family income and adult education levels (particularly for women). Overall, we find that the poorest, least-educated households have twice the pollution levels of relatively high-income households with highly-educated adults. Overall, we find that young children and poorly-educated women in poor households face pollution exposures that are four times those for men in higher-income households organized by more highly-educated women. In our previous paper, we recommended feasible changes in cooking locations, construction materials and ventilation practices that could greatly reduce average household pollution levels. In this paper, we consider measures for narrowing the exposure gap among individuals within households. We focus particularly on changes for infants and young children, since they suffer the worst mortality and morbidity from indoor air pollution, but our findings also apply to women and adolescents. Our recommendations for reducing their exposure are based on a few simple, robust findings: Hourly pollution levels in cooking and living areas are quite similar because cooking smoke diffuses rapidly and nearly-completely into living areas. However, outdoor pollution is far lower. At present, young children are only outside for an average of 3 hours per day. For children in a typical household, pollution exposure can be halved by adopting two simple measures: increasing their outdoor time from 3 to 5 or 6 hours per day, and concentrating outdoor time during peak cooking periods. We recognize that weather and other factors may intervene occasionally, and that child supervision outdoors may be difficult for some households. However, the potential benefits are so great that neighbors might well agree to pool outdoor supervision once they became aware of the implications for their children’s health.


WHO SUFFERS FROM INDOOR AIR POLLUTION? EVIDENCE FROM BANGLADESHWHO SUFFERS FROM INDOOR AIR POLLUTION? EVIDENCE FROM BANGLADESH
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