Biomass Cookstoves and Human Health

We apply our technical knowledge, in-country experience, and collaboration skills to better understand and solve the critical health and environmental problems created by indoor use of biomass cookstoves in developing countries. Working with the scientific community and U.S. federal agencies, and investing our own funds, we are tackling the technical, economic, and societal challenges that make this issue so complex.

Resources in Biomass Cookstove Research

Our Multidisciplinary Expertise

Our Goals in Biomass Cookstove Research

  • Identify social and economic realities in developing nations that have inhibited implementation of new cookstove designs and work with experts in government and NGOs to find more effective paths forward
  • Identify the technology gaps and mechanisms for commercializing improved designs
  • Devise better cookstove technologies that enhance the probability of acceptance and long-term usage by people in developing countries
  • Develop the integrated tools and policies needed to sustain and socialize this effort and speed diffusion of new technologies in developing nations
  • Enhance the ability of health studies to define disease-specific dose-response relationships

Our Current Activities

An RTI biomass stove design
An RTI biomass stove design

We have committed more than $200,000 to develop tools and information critical to an integrated solution. Efforts under way include the following:

  • Analyzing environmental health risk and biomass stove use. Working with a researcher from the Sri Lanka National Institute of Health, we are studying respiratory diseases, environmental health risks, and stove use in Sri Lanka, with an emphasis on ethnic, gender, urban, and rural differences.
  • Designing a better biomass stove. We are working to improve combustion efficiency of and lower personal exposure from existing stove designs. In particular, we are examining the links between stove design and operating conditions.
  • Monitoring and characterizing exposure. Using RTI-developed instruments and methods, we are studying personal exposure to carbon emissions from biomass stoves. We are also collecting and examining dried blood spots from finger pricks to determine what exposure levels cause adverse health effects.

Related Capabilities