A study involving nearly half 1,000,000 people in china reveals a transparent link between cooking with wood or coal, and an increased risk of major disease that may result in blindness, consistent with a report published within the journal PLOS medicine. About half the world’s population 3.8 billion individuals are exposed to household pollution from cooking using ‘dirty’ solid fuels, like coal and wood.
While previous reports have reported a possible link between cooking with solid fuels and an increased risk of cataracts in women, it is unclear whether similar associations also exist with other major eye diseases, like Conjunctivitis, Keratitis and Glaucoma.
The researchers from the University of oxford and also the Chinese Academy of bioscience and Peking University, Beijing, analysed data from almost half million Chinese adults within the China Kadoorie Bio bank.
All the study participants were asked about their cooking habits by questionnaire, and so tracked for hospital admissions of major eye diseases through linkage to insurance records.
Over the ten year follow, these are the disorders:
- 4877 – Conjunctiva disorders
- 13408 – Cataracts
- 1583 – DSCIC (disorders of sclera, cornea, iris and ciliary body)
- 1535 – Glaucoma
Comparing with people who cooked using clean fuels (electricity or gas), solid fuels users cared-for be older, female, rural residents, less educated, agricultural workers and regular smokers.
After accounting of those factors properly the results showed the subsequent results:
- Use of solid fuels increased the risks of conjunctiva, cataracts, and DSCIC.
- Solid fuels type (coal versus wood) did not make much difference.
- Use of solid fuels failed to increase the rik of glaucoma.
- Switching from using solid to scrub fuels reduced the risks of conjunctiva, cataracts, and DSCIC.
- Long-term use of solid fuels for cooking was related to 32%, 17%, and 35% higher risks of conjunctiva, cataracts, and DSCIC, respectively, compared with people who cooked using clean fuels.
- The lead author of this study says that the increased risks is also caused by exposure to high levels of fine material (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide gas, which might damage the attention surface and cause inflammation.
- Burning wood also increase the chance of eye injury from sparks or wood dust.
The investigators propose that the explanation there was no association between solid fuel use and risk of glaucoma was because this disorder affects internal eye structure.
In china, despite recent success from government-led clean stove initiatives, around 400 million people still used solid fuels for domestic purpose in 2018.