Can digesters improve indoor air quality?
Burning charcoal and firewood in simple stoves with no flue or ventilation degrades indoor air and is a serious health risk for approximately 3 billion people worldwide, nearly all of whom reside in low and middle income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.3 million premature deaths were linked to indoor air pollution in 2012 alone, making air pollution a greater health risk than malaria! In Uganda, over 90% of households rely upon charcoal or firewood to meet their basic energy needs.
Anaerobic digesters produce a clean-burning source of renewable cooking fuel (methane) that should significantly reduce concentrations of indoor air pollutants. Biogas contributes the least amount of 2.5mm particulate matter (pm) emissions on a 24- hour average compared to other biomass fuels: cow dung/wood (820 mg/m3), wood (792 mg/m3), charcoal/wood (226 mg/m3), and biogas (67 mg/m3)3. Our team measures SO2 and particulate matter concentrations in kitchens that use biogas to quantify the impact this technology has on indoor air pollution.