The burning of solid fuels for cooking, increased industrialization, and the lack of air conditioning are three reasons why some countries have more indoor air pollution than other countries.
Low-to-middle-income countries are most affected by air pollution. Countries like Somalia and India have relatively high death rates due to air pollution, while countries like the US and Canada have relatively low death rates.
Burning of Solid Fuels for Cooking
Solid fuels used for cooking include wood, dung, and charcoal. When these fuels are burned, harmful fumes and chemicals are released into the indoor air. Access to clean cooking fuels like electricity or natural gas is key to preventing indoor pollution. For example, in Somalia, only 3.2% of the population has access to clean cooking fuels. In the US, nearly 100% of the population has access to clean cooking fuels.
Increased Industrialization of Developing Countries
Most countries want economic growth and better living standards for their citizens. However, economic growth and industrialization can lead to increased air pollution. Industrialization leads to more energy sources being needed. These energy sources include fossil fuels like oil and coal.
For example, many African countries are industrializing and expanding their economies. These countries are also leading the region in carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution. They may have weak environmental laws as well.
Lack of Air Conditioning
The main purpose of air conditioning is to keep indoor air cool. Air conditioners also circulate and filter the indoor air which allows for better indoor air quality.
According to the International Energy Agency, 90% of US households have air conditioners while India has less than 10% of households with air conditioners. India’s death rate from air pollution is 16 times higher than the rate in the US.
Interestingly, according to World Economics Data, the 10-year average temperature in the US is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while in India the 10-year average temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The US is 27 degrees cooler yet has many more households with air conditioners.
The burning of solid fuels for cooking, increased industrialization and the lack of air conditioning are reasons why some countries have more indoor air pollution than other countries.
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