Household air pollution in action

A project log for OpenHAP

An opensource DIY tool to help combat "household air pollution"-which kills more people globally than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

aloismbuturaaloismbutura 08/27/2019 at 16:421 Comment

Is state of household air pollution really that bad?- This is the question I doubtfully asked myself in March 2019 while doing research on the problem above as I was designing an household air pollution monitor for a study being carried out by EED Advisory for SNV, the Dutch development agency on the cooking the sector in Kenya.

Nothing could have prepared me for the truth as my first openHAP field test did in rural Kenya.

The rural area in Kiambu county, Kenya. In the background are Ngong hills and its wind farm. The air looks so clean doesn't it?

The home that we were welcomed to visit take sample measurements. The lady who welcomed us so nicely can be seen in the distance with my colleague.

The home uses a Three stone open fire(TSOF) stove which is one of the most widely available stoves globally due to the ease of building materials and the minimal skills needed. Details are well documented here.

An illustration of a Three Stone Open fire(TSOF) stove taken from the Improved cookstoves training manual, hosted within the Humanity Development Library 2.0 by the Humanities Library Project.

Stove temperatures as seen on a FliR Thermal camera

The mock cooking exercise started as soon as I began setting up the openHAP prototype unit. Though the camera does not capture the smoke levels well, the build up  much faster than anticipated as it took less than just 30 seconds by my approximation for it to reach the point I couldn't see. At that moment the closest thing I could compare it to was industrial flue gas
Industrial flue gas emissions
"Help me, I cant see!" By this time everybody except us had vacated the kitchen due to the smoke, even the lady who invited us could only just watch our brave efforts from outside,"Help me, I cant see!" By this time everybody except us had vacated the kitchen due to the smoke, even the lady who invited us could only just watch our brave efforts from outside,
The prototype OpenHAP unit already setup. One can see the thick layer of soot coating formed on the corrugated iron sheets over time. It is still unbelievable how the lungs and eyes can take such a beating for so long given that people cook three times a day and this kitchen has been here for years!
After 48 hours, we downloaded the data from the OpenHAP prototype unit and analysed it. Apparently the readings were so high that it exceeded the upper detection threshold of our particulate sensor! From the calculations, the lady who invited us(primary participant in the graph) was taking in the equivalent of 8 cigarettes a day and approximately 8 times above WHO's 24 hour exposure limit just based on our curtailed particulate matter sensor readings.

After testing the unit in rural Kenya and seeing the data, we decided to open source the openHAP design and methodology and give support to its development through our subsidiary, Kaiote as a public domain project allowing others to make copies and derivatives.


nisixir221 wrote 12/28/2021 at 13:59 point

Air pollution became one of the most spreaded problems around the world and the situation is getting even worse. I was recommended to read more information here because my research topic is directly related to ecology. I am tried to detect how to avoid air pollution in the standard conditions.

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