Indoor Air Pollution

Region: Kenya
Purdue Collaborator: School of Civil Engineering; College of Health and Human Sciences

The Challenge: Indoor Air Pollution

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than four million people die prematurely every year from breathing pollutants from cooking with solid fuels, such as wood, coal, dung, and crop wastes. Household air pollution is a complex problem that involves considerations in human health, food security, behavioral science, engineering, and medicine. For cook stove intervention studies to be successful, they must be co-designed with the community.

Women and children bear the great majority of the disease burden since they spend much of their time in, or near, the kitchen. Lack of viable alternatives to traditional food preparation techniques, and lack of community participation in projects have led to less than stellar success in changing cooking practices.  

Field measurement campaigns to study cook stove emissions and their impact on human health provide limited data on the diverse spectrum of pollutant emission rates, as well as on how ventilation in dwellings influences these.

The Purdue Innovation: The Nandi Kitchen Airflow Study

The Nandi Kitchen Airflow Study is a faculty-led student research team intervention study, carried out in partnership with The  Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) and the Nandi Community, to design culturally-acceptable solutions to kitchen building layout and stove designs that mitigate indoor air pollution. Toward this end, the Nandi Team will development educational modules that integrate elements of the Nandi culture and traditional cooking practices, and provide hands-on demonstrations will be used to introduce practical solutions to improve indoor air quality, including Kenyan-made or -adapted cook stove technologies, alternative cooking and food preparation techniques, fuels, improved kitchen ventilation and localized exhaust, solar-powered induction cooktops, and solar ovens. Nandi cooks will have the opportunity to design and test their own solutions through a group project approach. Meanwhile, the Nandi research team will conduct comprehensive measurements of indoor air quality in the proposed, newly-designed kitchens of the Nandi community.

The project is supported by an interdisciplinary undergraduate EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) team led by PI Brandon Boor. The Global Air Quality Trekkers include students from engineering, health sciences, anthropology, and sociology. Through a short-term study abroad, selected EPICS students accompany the PI to Kenya to create new iterations of solutions to indoor air pollution, through co-designing with the women of the Nandi community..

The Partners:

Purdue University and AMPATH (AMPATH is a partnership between Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (Kenya's second national referral hospital), and a consortium of U.S. medical schools led by Indiana University)

  • Brandon E. Boor, Ph.D., Purdue University, College of Engineering, Lyles School of Civil Engineering
  • Ellen M. Wells, Ph.D., Purdue University, College of Health & Human Sciences, School of Health Sciences;
  • David K. Lagat, M.D., Moi University, School of Medicine