Modeling emission rates and exposures from outdoor cooking

Rufus Edwards, Marko Princevac, Robert Weltman, Masoud Ghasemian, Narendra K. Arora, Tami Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Approximately 3 billion individuals rely on solid fuels for cooking globally. For a large portion of these – an estimated 533 million – cooking is outdoors, where emissions from cookstoves pose a health risk to both cooks and other household and village members. Models that estimate emissions rates from stoves in indoor environments that would meet WHO air quality guidelines (AQG), explicitly don't account for outdoor cooking. The objectives of this paper are to link health based exposure guidelines with emissions from outdoor cookstoves, using a Monte Carlo simulation of cooking times from Haryana India coupled with inverse Gaussian dispersion models. Mean emission rates for outdoor cooking that would result in incremental increases in personal exposure equivalent to the WHO AQG during a 24-h period were 126 ± 13 mg/min for cooking while squatting and 99 ± 10 mg/min while standing. Emission rates modeled for outdoor cooking are substantially higher than emission rates for indoor cooking to meet AQG, because the models estimate impact of emissions on personal exposure concentrations rather than microenvironment concentrations, and because the smoke disperses more readily outdoors compared to indoor environments. As a result, many more stoves including the best performing solid-fuel biomass stoves would meet AQG when cooking outdoors, but may also result in substantial localized neighborhood pollution depending on housing density. Inclusion of the neighborhood impact of pollution should be addressed more formally both in guidelines on emissions rates from stoves that would be protective of health, and also in wider health impact evaluation efforts and burden of disease estimates. Emissions guidelines should better represent the different contexts in which stoves are being used, especially because in these contexts the best performing solid fuel stoves have the potential to provide significant benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Air quality guidelines
  • Cookstoves
  • Emissions rates
  • Exposures
  • ISO standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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