Environmental Science

The Gases of Cooking

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Science  18 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5618, pp. 395
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5618.395b

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are normally associated with the CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning in the developed world. However, even the use of solid biomass for heat and cooking in the underdeveloped countries adds to the GHG budget, not in CO2 but in GHGs such as carbon monoxide and methane that result from incomplete fuel combustion. In order to assess relative GHG potentials of different fuels, Bailis et al. measured actual emissions from a month of measurements of three-stone and ceramic woodstoves and charcoal stoves in an agricultural community in central Kenya. Although charcoal stoves burn more cleanly in terms of particulate matter and thus do less damage to respiratory health, they are much greater emitters of non-CO2 GHGs when the total production cycle is taken into account. The authors discuss various policy implications, from the political issues that affect charcoal production to the need to introduce and distribute improved charcoal stoves.—PDS

Environ. Sci. Technol. 10.1021/es026058q (2003).

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