For families reliant on wood or biomass fuels for cooking there are a host of health problems tied to their use of cooking fires:
Smoke inhalation: In many countries, women and young children spend hours a day in smoky cook houses. The biomass (wood, animal dung and crop residue) used as fuel gives off toxic smoke at about seven times the safe limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA). According to the WHO, every twenty seconds a person dies from this condition known as Indoor Air Pollution (IAP). IAP can lead to lung cancer, low birth rate, cataracts, bronchitis, TB, higher infant mortality and asthma as well as pneumonia and other respiratory infections which are the biggest killers of children under five years of age in the developing world.
Back and neck injuries: Smoke inhalation is not the only health risk. Women and children also suffer back and neck injuries from gathering and carrying fuel wood. Children often burn themselves by falling into cooking fires. The injuries and diseases caused by the use of cooking fires can only be relieved by introducing less labor-intensive and cleaner cooking methods.
Severe burns: It is not uncommon for young children playing near cooking fires (particularly when the fires are temporarily un-attended by an adult) to step or fall into fires, suffering acute burn injuries.