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The Environment and Human Health

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD

Collecting Firewood in Basankusu

Some environmental health issues that seem small-scale actually have large global impacts. For example, the cooking fires used by individual households in many parts of the world may seem minor and localized. But worldwide, exposure to cook stove smoke kills nearly two million people each year (according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves). It also doubles a child’s risk of contracting pneumonia. Furthermore, cooking smoke gives off particulates and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. 

In developing countries, girls may spend as many as 20 hours per week collecting fuel for cooking. This relentless search for cooking fuel is causing deforestation in many areas of the world. Deforestation, in turn, leads to changes in rainfall patterns and run-off, and accelerates soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. All of these outcomes have negative impacts on human health.


Funded by the following grant(s)