How can I prevent health problems from smoke

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To reduce the amount of smoky air you breathe:

Cook where air can move freely. If you cannot cook outdoors, then make sure there are at least 2 openings for air in the room. This creates a draft, so the smoke will leave the room.

Cook in turns with other women. This way each woman will breathe less smoke.

Find ways to prepare food that require less cooking time (but still cook foods completely). This way you will breathe in less smoke, and you will also use less fuel.

Food cooks more quickly and completely if you:

  • cut food into small pieces.
  • keep the cooking pot covered.
  • soak dried foods, like beans, overnight before cooking.
  • protect the fire from wind. A nest of rock, clay, or iron sheets can help keep heat around the pot.
  • protect unused wood from rain.

Use stoves that produce less smoke. This is the best way to prevent health problems caused by cooking smoke. Stoves that burn less fuel and produce very little smoke may be available in your area, but they can also be made easily with local materials.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en030105