Village ambient pollution
In collaboration with Chinese colleagues, we monitored the metrology, outdoor air pollution, and household stove use over a year in a village outside Beijing. We found outdoor pollution levels as severe as in the middle of the city, which were influenced heavily by local household sources, mainly coal and wood heating in the winter. Publications in progress.
An Assessment of Programs to Promote Improved Household Stoves in China
University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco; Tsinghua University; Renmin University; and the Chinese Centers for Disease Control
Funding by Household Energy and Health Programme, Shell Foundation, London, UK
In China, crop wastes and wood are the main household fuels, use of which burdens rural residents and ecosystems in many ways. In part to counter this, China has undertaken programs to improve the welfare of rural residents, including several aimed at household stoves. In the early 1980s, the Chinese government organized the world’s largest publicly financed initiative to improve stoves–the National Improved Stove Program (NISP). It aimed to provide rural households with more-efficient biomass stoves and, later, improved coal stoves, for cooking and heating. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) ran the NISP, supporting 860 of the country’s approximately 2,100 counties. Aided by independent provincial and county programs, commercial activity, and word of mouth, improved stoves spread to counties beyond those supported by the NISP, until, according to MOA, most of China’s rural households had at least one.
By the early 1990s, 130 million improved stoves had been installed, and pressure on biomass had eased in most parts of the country. The NISP was wound down, and MOA turned its attention towards support for stove manufacturers and energy service companies. From the mid-1990s onwards, support for the stove industry was replaced with extension services and certification systems to standardize stoves. The development and dissemination of improved stoves is now left mainly to market actors, with some local government oversight. MOA claimed that, in 1998, 185 million of China’s 236 million rural households had improved biomass or coal stoves. In recent years, MOA has turned towards integrated household welfare programs.
Other agencies also have improved-stove programs. For instance, the Ministry of Health (MOH) started a program in the mid-1990s to promote “improved kitchens” in poorer regions, and has a program to provide improved stoves in areas where fluorosis from burning high-fluoride coals is endemic. The former State Development Planning Commission (SDPC; superceded by the National Development and Reform Commission), in response to destructive flooding along the Yangtze River in 1998, initiated the Yangtze River Valley Environmental Protection Project to reduce soil erosion by reforestation, and including promotion of improved stoves.
A qualitative review of NISP implementation done in the early 1990s showed that the program has succeeded in putting stoves in the home (Smith, et al. 1993). However, the impact on air quality and health were not assessed. Now, nearly a quarter century after the program’s inception, the question remains, “What have been the benefits of NISP?”.
This project was an independent, multidisciplinary review of China’s improved rural household stoves programs that were carried out by MOA, MOH, and SDPC. The project had three major objectives, i.e.:
1. to evaluate the implementation methods used to promote improved stoves;
2. to evaluate the commercial stove production and marketing organizations that were created during the same period; and
3. to measure the household impacts of the programs.
Because of its long history and large scale, more material was available on the NISP, and consequently this paper focuses mainly on it, rather than other programs. To address the first two objectives, we implemented a facility survey of 108 government agencies and enterprises at different levels. To address the third objective, we undertook a household survey of 3,476 households that included measures of health, stove performance, socioeconomic factors, and (in a subsample of the households) indoor air quality (IAQ). Three provinces, Zhejiang, Hubei, and Shaanxi, were chosen to represent, respectively, high, medium, and low adoption rates of improved stoves.
Publications and Other Materials from the Project
Zhang J and Smith KR Household Air Pollution from Coal and Biomass Fuels in China: Measurements, Health Impacts, and Interventions. Environ Health Perspect 115:848–855, 2007.
Edwards RD, Liu Y, He G, Yin Z, Sinton J, Peabody J, Smith KR. Household CO and PM measured as part of a review of China’s National Improved Stove Program.Indoor Air 2007; 17: 189–203.
Peabody JW, Riddell TJ, Smith KR; Liu Y, et al. Indoor Air Pollution in Rural China: Cooking Fuels, Stoves, and Health Status. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 60(2):86-95, 2005.
Zhang, Xiliang and Kirk R. Smith. An Assessment of Programs to Promote Improved Household Stoves in China,August 2004 Summary Document, 6pp.
Mueller V, Pfaff A, Peabody J, Liu Y, Smith KR, Demonstrating bias and improved inference for stoves’ health benefits, Intern J Epidemiology, 40: 1643–1651, 2011
Mueller V, Pfaff A, Peabody J, Liu Y, Smith KR, Improving stove evaluation using survey data: Who received which intervention matters, Ecological Economics, 93: 301–312, 2013.