Indoor Air Quality References

E. Park, K. Lee Particulate exposure and size distribution from wood burning stoves in Costa Rica, Indoor Air Volume 13 Issue 3 Page 253 - September 2003


Biomass fuel is the most common energy source for cooking and space heating in developing countries. Biomass fuel combustion causes high levels of indoor air pollutants including particulates and other combustion by-products. We measured indoor air quality in 23 houses with a wood burning stove in rural residential areas of Costa Rica. Daily PM2.5, PM10 and CO concentrations, and particle size distribution were simultaneously measured in the kitchen. When a wood burning stove was used during the monitoring period, average daily PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations were 44 and 132 g/m3, respectively. Average CO concentrations were between 0.5 and 3.3 ppm. All houses had a particle size distribution of either one or two peaks at around 0.7 and 2.5 m aerodynamic diameters. The particulate levels increased rapidly during cooking and decreased quickly after cooking. The maximum peak particulate levels ranged from 310 to 8170 g/m3 for PM2.5 and from 500 to 18,900 g/m3 for PM10 in all houses. Although the 24-h particulate levels in this study are lower than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of PM2.5 and PM10, it is important to note that people, especially women and children, are exposed to extremely high levels of particulates during cooking.

Practical Implications

Indoor air pollution from wood burning is one of major public health concerns in developing countries. This study measured relatively low daily particulates level in wood burning houses with ventilation in Costa Rica, but extremely high peak concentrations during cooking. This temporal profile suggests that women and children are frequently exposed to high levels of particulate matter. In future studies, exposure in the population should be determined by peak concentrations of particulates and daily frequency of cooking.