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Assessing Vulnerability of Women to Indoor Air Pollution

Keywords: Cooking , exposure , health , housing , vulnerability , women

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Abstract:

In this study an attempt has been made to identify the factors that have contributed to vulnerability of women to indoor air pollution and suggests suitable measures for its intervention. The study is based on primary sources of data collected with the help of questionnaire interviews from a sample of 2,101 women respondents belonging from different income groups, from Aligarh city. Information regarding their cooking conditions (4 factors), cooking related exposures (4 factors), housing (3 factors) and health conditions (3 factors) were collected. Total 14 factors linked with women vulnerability to indoor air pollution were identified. Indoor air pollutants were monitored in the cooking area and with different fuel usages to assess the indoor air quality. The results show that women are vulnerable to indoor air pollution but there was difference in the levels of vulnerability among the women belonging to different income groups. It was the lower income women who were most vulnerable because they were using biomass fuels/chulhas, cooking in a multipurpose room, spending long hours in kitchen, they were more exposed to smoke, heat, pollutants and the conditions were exacerbated because they were living in sub-standard housing, in one room leading to congestion/crowding and with no ventilation. They were suffering most from various problems and specific diseases like respiratory infections (ALRI, AURI, COPD, asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis), perinatal mortality, low birth weight, cataract and eye irritation associated with indoor air pollution.

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