Target: Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization
Goal: Make home stoves safer in low-income countries to reduce the number of air pollution deaths and illnesses
According to a recently published World Health Organization (WHO) report, one out of eight deaths in the world is caused by air pollution – and half of those deaths are due to household stoves. Air pollution is the most prominent environmental risk in the world, and it caused the deaths of approximately seven million people in 2012.
A majority of the world’s home stoves burn wood, coal, manure, and farming crop residue. These cooking and heating fuels have been definitively linked to lung cancer, respiratory disease, heart attack, and stroke. Countries in low- and middle-income Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific are most affected by death and illness due to indoor air pollution. “They don’t have a lot of energy so you have to burn a lot of fuel, and that causes a lot of pollution in the process,” explained Catlin Powers, an environmental health researcher specializing in air pollution at Harvard University.
Although solar, gas, and electric stoves are safer and healthier, families in these regions cannot afford or do not have access to advanced technologies. Not only is distributing efficient stoves to rural areas a challenge, but many people in these areas depend upon pollution-producing stoves as a source of heat in cold months.
Sign the below petition to urge the World Health Organization to work with regional indigenous leaders to provide cleaner burning fuels to people in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. Old habits die hard, but if these communities understand the risks that existing stoves pose for their families, air pollution-related illness can be prevented.
Dear Dr. Chan,
As you know, approximately 3.3 million deaths are caused by indoor air pollution in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific each year. Household stoves that burn wood, coal, manure, and farming crop residues are mostly to blame, as these fuels are directly linked to lung cancer, heart attack, respiratory disease, and stroke.
Safer fuel technologies are available, but the challenge lies in transporting them to rural residents and convincing residents to use them. I am urging you to work with regional indigenous leaders to begin introducing more residents to safer fuel technologies. Please provide people in these regions with information about the risks of their current stoves and viable alternative heating and cooking options. Not only are these hazardous fuels putting the health of people at risk, but they are also contributing to vast environmental problems like deforestation and energy shortages.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fg2 via WikiMedia Commons