Ameliorating acute respiratory infections in rural kitchens with a sustainable, cost-effective ventilation solution

Pratik S. Vangal

Vol. 2 Issue 1. p. 29-27 (2020)

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ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3 billion people worldwide still burn inefficient and polluting biomass fuels (e.g. wood, charcoal, or straw) for daily cooking in rural households. Research shows that biomass smoke contains health-damaging pollutants and carcinogens, including coarse and fine particles, carbon monoxide (CO) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); placing women and children in developing countries at increased risk of acute respiratory infections (ARI), chronic lung disease, tuberculosis, and cancers. This investigation evaluated prospects for improving indoor air quality via experiments and in-field deployment of a smoke aeration solution in the rural kitchens of South India. A practical kitchen ventilation solution exhaust was built using an array of desktop computer fans powered solely by solar energy. The experiments show promise for an effective, yet low cost (< US $5) and mass-producible ventilation solution, fully designed using 100% recycled scrap, tiled photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and cooling fan arrays from retired computing equipment. The results demonstrate that 2-3 watts of solar energy can readily be harvested to successfully power a two-dimensional (2D) fan array exhaust, providing an airflow of 284 CFM (0.13 m3/s), which favorably compares to airflow rates in electric chimneys and fans installed in developed countries.

KEYWORDS: Rural Kitchen; Respiratory Infections; Household Air Pollution; Smoke Ventilation; Biomass Fuels