The health of about 2 billion of the world’s poor is being damaged because they lack access to clean energy, like electricity, and face exposure to smoke from open fires, scientists said on Thursday. Dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants from badly ventilated cooking fires are a common hazard, while lack of electricity deprives many of the benefits of refrigeration.
Up to 3 billion people around the world rely on solid fuels such as wood, coal, crop waste or animal dung for indoor cooking and heating. The resulting smoke ranks as the fourth-biggest health risk in the poorest countries, yet it is typically overlooked.
Having access to electricity for microwaves and ovens is one of the basic reasons that we in the West don’t suffer from many of these problems. But these people don’t have electricity–in fact, many of these problems are coming from burning “carbon-neutral” fuels like wood and dung. They may not be contributing to global warming, but burning these fuels is killing them. They need electrical energy, but not from coal–from clean forms of nuclear energy like thorium.