A large body of evidence has confirmed that the indoor air pollution (IAP) from biomass fuel use is a major cause of premature deaths, and acute and chronic diseases. Over 78% of Sri Lankans use biomass fuel for cooking, the major source of IAP in developing countries. We conducted a review of the available literature and data sources to profile biomass fuel use in Sri Lanka. We also produced two maps (population density and biomass use; and cooking fuel sources by district) to illustrate the problem in a geographical context. The biomass use in Sri Lanka is limited to wood while coal, charcoal, and cow dung are not used. Government data sources indicate poor residents in rural areas are more likely to use biomass fuel. Respiratory diseases, which may have been caused by cooking emissions, are one of the leading causes of hospitalizations and death. The World Health Organization estimated that the number of deaths attributable to IAP in Sri Lanka in 2004 was 4300. Small scale studies have been conducted in-country in an attempt to associate biomass fuel use with cataracts, low birth weight, respiratory diseases and lung cancer. However, the IAP issue has not been broadly researched and is not prominent in Sri Lankan public health policies and programs to date. Our profile of Sri Lanka calls for further analytical studies and new innovative initiatives to inform public health policy, advocacy and program interventions to address the IAP problem of Sri Lanka.
Elledge, M.F., Phillips, M.J., Thornburg, V.E., Everett, K.H, Nandasena, S, 2012