Health Effects

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Deborah Havens.

PhD Student, Health Effects

The focus of the Health Effects theme PhD study is whether interventions such as the cookstoves used in the Cooking And Pneumonia Study (CAPS) will benefit health.  CAPS was a 2-year, cluster randomized controlled trial performed at two study sites (Chikhwawa and Karonga) in rural Malawi that substituted the use of an improved cookstove with low smoke emissions for cooking over an open fire.  At the end of the trial, the published results of CAPS indicated that cookstove use in this setting did not decrease the incidence of pneumonia in children under the age of 5.

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During CAPS, a subset of the participants wore EL USB Lascar carbon monoxide (CO) monitors to help assess their exposure to smoke.  The monitors were worn for 48 hours for up to five times throughout the trial.  Reviewing these exposures provided a snapshot of the air pollution the children were exposed to in their homes and communities, and whether the use of the cookstoves decreased their exposure.  Analyzing this information will improve understanding about both the potential effect of the cookstoves on reducing household air pollution and to what extent the exposure may affect respiratory health.  These data will be analyzed to assess whether more significant health effects are seen from air pollutant exposures averaged over time, maximum exposures or duration of exposure.

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A separate subset of the CAPS participants and their guardians from the Karonga study site also provided additional exposure information. The children wore the Lascar carbon monoxide monitors, guardians wore microAeth (black carbon) monitors, and a device to assess particulate matter (PM2.5) (Thermo Scientific pDR 1500) was placed by the cooking source.  Approximately 150 families consented to wear the monitors and this has resulted in a set of data that will assist in correlating the PM2.5, black carbon and CO exposures in this setting, taking into consideration the type of fuels, use of the improved cookstove and other environmental exposures. Better understanding of these different pollutants has useful implications for potential household air pollution interventions.