The stove designs, fuels, and cooking methods influence the amount of emission.
Traditional cookstoves, widely used in the rural parts of India, may be producing much higher levels of particulate emissions than previously estimated, causing a detrimental impact on the country’s environment and health of residents, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, was the culmination of field studies conducted in India.
In December 2015, the researchers spent 20 days running a series of tests in Raipur, a city in central India where more than three-quarters of the families use cookstoves to prepare their meals. The scientists burned a wide variety of biofuels (fuel wood, agricultural residue, and dung) acquired from different parts of India, cooked different meals in a number of varying ventilation situations and recorded the resulting emission levels using high- tech particle measurement devices.
“Our project findings quantitatively show that particulate emissions from cookstoves in India have been underestimated,” said Rajan Chakrabarty, assistant professor at Washington University. “Traditional cookstove burning is one of the largest source of pollutants in India. We found it’s a really big problem; this is revising what people knew for decades,” he added.
While further investigation is needed to evaluate the exact effect of cookstove emissions on the climate and health, the researchers say their work lays the foundation for further improving the process by which those effects are evaluated and measured. The scientists say that the newly developed low-cost pollution sensor can allow to eventually determine the regions of hot spots and locations that would have high concentrations of emissions.