Cookstove and Indoor Air Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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Three billion people, nearly half of the world’s population, use inefficient stoves to cook their daily meals. Fueled by wood, coal, or dung, these traditional cookstoves or open fires produce smoke that contributes to the 4.3 million estimated annual deaths from exposures to household air pollution, with women and young children the most affected. Cookstove smoke contributes to a range of chronic illnesses and acute health impacts such as low birth weight and acute pneumonia in children under 5, lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and cardiovascular disease. Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating puts increased pressure on natural resources and contributes to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases. In addition, women and girls face personal security risks as they forage for fuel near refugee camps and conflict zones.

NIEHS Efforts

Over the past eight years, NIEHS has invested an estimated $9 million in research related to cookstoves and their health effects, primarily in community-based intervention studies in Guatemala, Ecuador, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana, and the U.S. with study endpoints including lower respiratory infection (LRI) and tuberculosis in children, low birth weight, COPD, and other respiratory conditions in adult women. NIEHS seeks to expand the geographic reach of its studies and research training programs, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of new cookstove technologies. Examples of some of the supported projects are below.


Bonnie Joubert, Scientific Program Director, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Claudia Thompson, Susceptibility and Population Health Branch Chief, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Cynthia RiderToxicologist, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Esra MutluChemist, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Kimberly GrayScientific Program Administrator, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Suramya WaidyanathaChemistry and ADME Discipline Leader, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Check out NIEHS’s current projects related to energy transitions.

Visit the NIEHS’s website for more information.