Household cooking fuel use and its health effects among rural women in southern India-A cross-sectional study

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The use of biomass fuel is associated with the deterioration of human health and women are more likely to develop health conditions due to their exposure to indoor air pollution during cooking. This study was conducted to assess the pattern of fuel used for cooking in households as well as to determine the association between the types of fuel used with respect to socio-demographic characteristics and health status of women. A community based cross-sectional survey was conducted between August 2016 and September 2018 in four rural areas and one semi-urban area of Udupi district, Karnataka, India. The study comprised 587 families including 632 women. A pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data on the type of fuel as well as self-reported health conditions. Overall, 72.5% of the families used biomass, where 67.2% families were currently using both biomass and liquefied petroleum gas while only biomass was used in 5.3% of the families for cooking. Among women, being ever exposed to biomass fuel was significantly associated with their age, literacy level, occupation and socio-economic status (p < 0.001). Those who were exposed to biomass fuel showed a significant association with self-reported ophthalmic (AOR = 3.85; 95% CI: 1.79-8.29), respiratory (OR = 5.04; 95% CI: 2.52-10.07), cardiovascular (OR = 6.07; 95% CI: 1.88-19.67), dermatological symptoms /conditions (AOR = 3.67; 95% CI: 1.07-12.55) and history of adverse obstetric outcomes (AOR = 2.45; 95% CI: 1.08-5.57). A positive trend was observed between cumulative exposure to biomass in hour-years and various self-reported health symptoms/conditions (p < 0.001). It was observed that more than two-thirds of women using biomass fuel for cooking were positively associated with self-reported health symptoms. Further longitudinal studies are essential to determine the level of harmful air pollutants in household environment and its association with various health conditions among women in this region.



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