The Dangers Of Kerosene

With no access to electricity people are forced to rely on kerosene lamps which pose significant health impacts, due both to chronic illness resulting from inhalation of fumes and to risk of injury due to fire. There is evidence that exposure to the lamps, which are used indoors and in close proximity to people, impairs lung function and increases the risk for respiratory disease, cancer, eye problems, and infectious disease, including tuberculosis.

Kerosene lamps also pose safety and fire risks. Kerosene is highly flammable and there is a high risk of accidents, burns, and even fatalities associated with lamp use. In Nigeria, for instance, thousands of people are maimed each year by lamp explosions, with a 13% fatality rate. In India, 2.5 million people suffer severe burns caused by overturned kerosene lamps each year. Kerosene lamps are expensive to operate. Kerosene is costly both for low income households that buy it, and for governments that subsidize it.

According to the World Health Organization Almost 3 billion people, in low- and middle-income countries mostly, still rely on solid fuels (wood, animal dung, charcoal, crop wastes and coal) burned in inefficient and highly polluting stoves for cooking and heating. In 2012 alone, no fewer than 4.3 million children and adults died prematurely from illnesses caused by such household air pollution, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. Together with widespread use of kerosene stoves, heaters and lamps, these practices also result in many serious injuries and deaths from scalds, burns and poisoning. These new indoor air quality guidelines for household fuel combustion aim to help public health policy-makers, as well as specialists working on energy, environmental and other issues understand best approaches to reducing household air pollution — the greatest environmental health risk in the world today.