Pioneering Workshop in Bhutan Brings Attention to Household Air Pollution

COEH faculty Kirk Smith’s and Lisa Thompson’s landmark workshop on the topic of household air pollution (HAP) in Paro, Bhutan, was the first of its kind in a country where roughly 40 percent of households still rely on solid fuels as a main source of cooking. Over 4 million people a year die from exposure to HAP making it the most important environmental risk factor globally, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

Roughly 40 percent of households still rely on solid fuels as a main source of cooking.
Roughly 40 percent of households still rely on solid fuels as a main source of cooking.

The 5 day workshop, hosted by the Ministry of Health of Bhutan and the Bhutan Country Office of the WHO, trained and equipped public health officials, practitioners, and academics with the skills and knowledge to design and evaluate intervention studies and other research programs related to HAP.

Participants were provided with an overview of different exposure assessment techniques, including surveys, household air pollution monitoring, personal exposure assessment, time-activity evaluation, and stove usage monitoring. By the end of the week, attendees demonstrated their new skills by presenting a series of potential clean-cookstove intervention studies aimed at reducing household pollution levels and improving health risks in Bhutan where acute respiratory infections (pdf) are the third leading cause of death for adults and children under 5 years.

L. Drew Hill distributes exposure monitors for a hands-on demonstration of the burden personal monitoring places on study participants. Participants carried temperature and relative humidity monitors for 48 hours, noting their time-activity in a personal journal every hour.

L. Drew Hill distributes exposure monitors for a hands-on demonstration of the burden personal monitoring places on study participants. Participants carried temperature and relative humidity monitors for 48 hours, noting their time-activity in a personal journal every hour.

 

 

 

Workshop presenters from COEH included and L. Drew Hill, a doctoral student with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health (SPH) and Ajay Pillarisetti, PhD ’16, winner of the M. Donald Whorton Award sponsored by COEH. Hill and Pillarisetti are part of the Household Energy, Climate, and Health Research Group led by Smith, professor of Global Environmental Health with the UC Berkeley SPH. Thompson, also part of the research team, is an associate professor with the ‎UCSF School of Nursing.

In 2014, Smith’s group was one of 6 universities awarded a total of $9 million by the US Environmental Protection Agency to research cleaner technologies and fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating homes.

View workshop presentations at http://www.kirkrsmith.org/2016-thap.

Photo Credits:
Ajay Pillarisetti and Lisa Thompson

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