WHO Fact Sheet
WELL Review



ARI Webliography-February 2003

This webliography on acute respiratory infections and indoor air pollution was compiled by the EHP library in response to information requests on the topic and will be updated periodically. Please send an email if you have suggestions or wish to add a link to a web site or document to the webliography.


Indoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting developed and developing counties alike. Indoor air exposure to suspended particulate matter increases the risk of acute respiratory infections, one of the leading causes of infant and child mortality in developing countries. In Asia, according to WHO, such exposure accounts for between half and one million excess deaths every year. In sub-Saharan Africa the estimate is 300,000-500,000 excess deaths.

Even today, homes of the poor in developing counties are dangerous, unhealthy places – a WHO Fact Sheet on air pollution states “that a pollutant released indoors is 1000 times more likely to reach people's lungs than a pollutant released outdoors.”

Some 2000 million people throughout the world use wood or other biomass fuels (cow dung, crop residues and grass) for cooking and heating. The domestic burning of these fuels is an inefficient process that produces many pollutants, some of which may be carcinogenic. The problems are worsened in areas where people spend most of their time indoors.

Recent News/Reports 

There have been several interesting news features on indoor air pollution. In China, a recent newspaper article describes how fruit flies are effective in detecting indoor air pollution and an editorial in the February 14, 2003 International Herald Tribune states that We can do something about deadly smoke. In the USA, an article dated February 13, 2002 discusses how plants help to keep household air clean.

Recent reports that have been useful in responding to information requests include:

1 - WHO Fact Sheet – Air Pollution Fact Sheet
Revised in September 2000, this Fact Sheet discusses WHO's revised air quality standards.

2 - WELL - What's cooking? A Literature Review on the Health Impacts of Indoor Air Pollution
This study is a review of literature and field initiatives to examine both the impact of indoor air pollution on health, and the range of technical interventions designed to reduce the level of indoor smoke in developing countries. 

3 - WHO Bulletin 2000- Indoor air pollution in developing countries: a major environmental and public health challenge

4 - EHP - Lowering Exposure of Children to Indoor Air Pollution to Prevent ARI: The Need for Information and Action.

Annotated Bibliography (Click on author’s name to view abstract)

1 - Ezzati M, Kammen DM. - The health impacts of exposure to indoor air pollution from solid fuels in developing countries: knowledge, gaps, and data needs.
Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Nov;110(11):1057-68.

2 - Ezzati M, Kammen D. - Indoor air pollution from biomass combustion and acute respiratory infections in Kenya: an exposure-response study.
Lancet. 2001 Aug 25;358(9282):619-24.

3 - Smith KR. - Indoor air pollution in developing countries: recommendations for research.
Indoor Air. 2002 Sep;12(3):198-207.

4 - Larson BA, Rosen S. - Understanding household demand for indoor air pollution control in developing countries.
Soc Sci Med. 2002 Aug;55(4):571-84.

5 - Lan Q, Chapman RS, et al. - Household stove improvement and risk of lung cancer in Xuanwei, China.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Jun 5;94(11):826-35.

6 - Velema JP, Ferrera A, et al. - Burning wood in the kitchen increases the risk of cervical neoplasia in HPV-infected women in Honduras.
Int J Cancer. 2002 Feb 1;97(4):536-41.

7 - Boy E, Bruce N, Delgado H. - Birth weight and exposure to kitchen wood smoke during pregnancy in rural Guatemala.
Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jan;110(1):109-14.

8 - Albalak R, Bruce N, et al. - Indoor respirable particulate matter concentrations from an open fire, improved cookstove, and LPG/open fire combination in a rural Guatemalan community.
Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Jul 1;35(13):2650-5.

9 - Smith KR. - Inaugural article: national burden of disease in India from indoor air pollution.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Nov 21;97(24):13286-93.

Web Sites

1 - HEDON Household Energy Network

2 - Kirk Smith Home Page

3 - Tata Energy Research Institute – Indoor Air Quality

4 - EPA Indoor Air Quality