Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa)


Background: 3 billion people worldwide rely on polluting fuels and technologies for domestic cooking and heating. We estimate the global, regional, and national health burden associated with exposure to household air pollution.

Methods: For the systematic review and meta-analysis, we systematically searched four databases for studies published from database inception to April 2, 2020, that evaluated the risk of adverse cardiorespiratory, paediatric, and maternal outcomes from exposure to household air pollution, compared with no exposure. We used a random-effects model to calculate disease-specific relative risk (RR) meta-estimates. Household air pollution exposure was defined as use of polluting fuels (coal, wood, charcoal, agricultural wastes, animal dung, or kerosene) for household cooking or heating. Temporal trends in mortality and disease burden associated with household air pollution, as measured by disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), were estimated from 2000 to 2017 using exposure prevalence data from 183 of 193 UN member states. 95% CIs were estimated by propagating uncertainty from the RR meta-estimates, prevalence of household air pollution exposure, and disease-specific mortality and burden estimates using a simulation-based approach. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42019125060.

Findings: 476 studies (15·5 million participants) from 123 nations (99 [80%] of which were classified as low-income and middle-income) met the inclusion criteria. Household air pollution was positively associated with asthma (RR 1·23, 95% CI 1·11–1·36), acute respiratory infection in both adults (1·53, 1·22–1·93) and children (1·39, 1·29–1·49), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1·70, 1·47–1·97), lung cancer (1·69, 1·44–1·98), and tuberculosis (1·26, 1·08–1·48); cerebrovascular disease (1·09, 1·04–1·14) and ischaemic heart disease (1·10, 1·09–1·11); and low birthweight (1·36, 1·19–1·55) and stillbirth (1·22, 1·06–1·41); as well as with under-5 (1·25, 1·18–1·33), respiratory (1·19, 1·18–1·20), and cardiovascular (1·07, 1·04–1·11) mortality. Household air pollution was associated with 1·8 million (95% CI 1·1–2·7) deaths and 60·9 million (34·6–93·3) DALYs in 2017, with the burden overwhelmingly experienced in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs; 60·8 million [34·6–92·9] DALYs) compared with high-income countries (0·09 million [0·01–0·40] DALYs). From 2000, mortality associated with household air pollution had reduced by 36% (95% CI 29–43) and disease burden by 30% (25–36), with the greatest reductions observed in higher-income nations.

Interpretation: The burden of cardiorespiratory, paediatric, and maternal diseases associated with household air pollution has declined worldwide but remains high in the world’s poorest regions. Urgent integrated health and energy strategies are needed to reduce the adverse health impact of household air pollution, especially in LMICs.

Funding: British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust

Publication (Name of Journal)

The Lancet Global Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.