The effect of biomass fuel exposure on the prevalence of asthma in adults in India - Review of current evidence

Academic Article


  • Introduction: The combustion of biomass fuels is a major source of respiratory disease among individuals in the developing world. Over two million people world-wide rely on biomass fuels to supply their household energy needs with an estimated 1.6 million deaths annually being attributable to biomass smoke exposure. As a developing country, India relies heavily on the use of solid fuels as a source of energy. These materials supply 75% of the country's domestic energy need and are attributed as the cause of over 600000 deaths annually. Diseases such as chronic bronchitis and acute lower respiratory tract infections are strongly correlated to biomass smoke exposure. While not as strongly correlated, accumulating evidence suggests that asthma prevalence may be related to solid fuel smoke. Methods: This review examines the current literature linking biomass smoke exposure to the reporting of asthma symptoms. A PubMed search was performed using key terms biomass, asthma, India and respiratory disease. Preference was given to recent articles that surveyed the adult population within India. Results: The reviewed articles showed an increased odds ratio for reporting a diagnosis of asthma or symptoms consistent with asthma following biomass smoke exposure. While the literature supports a strong association between household air pollution and the development of chronic bronchitis and acute lower respiratory tract infections in India, this review establishes a more firm relationship between reported asthma symptoms and biomass smoke exposure. Conclusion: The exposure to biomass fuel smoke results in respiratory diseases in developing countries. Among these diseases, asthma appears to be a preventable pulmonary pathology that is associated with household air pollution. Measures to reduce exposure may decrease the burden of disease which could help advance social and economic progress in these nations. Further research and out-reach efforts are needed to reduce the total burden of lung diseases, including asthma, across the developing world. This reduction could save millions of dollars annually and lower morbidity and mortality in the affected populations. © 2014 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.
  • Published In

  • Journal of Asthma  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Trevor J; Antony V; Jindal SK
  • Start Page

  • 136
  • End Page

  • 141
  • Volume

  • 51
  • Issue

  • 2