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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Professors Co-Author Report – A Global Manual to Clean Urban Air

The Taj Mahal is often partially obscured by smog — the result of severe air pollution – which also endangers the health of the 1.5 million people who live in Agra, India, home to the monument and among the world’s most polluted cities.

A new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) report “LMIC Urban Air Pollution Solutions” provides practical steps for low and middle-income countries like India to address air pollution. The report was developed at a workshop hosted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the public health nonprofit Vital Strategies. Among its authors are Dr. Carlos Dora, visiting fellow in the School’s Global Health Justice and Governance program, and Dr. Darby Jack, associate professor in environmental health sciences, who contributed on household fuels and monitoring. In ongoing research in Ghana, Dr. Jack studies the health impacts of indoor cookstoves.

India is among several low and middle-income countries that promote the use of liquid petroleum gas, a clean-burning cooking fuel alternative. Today, three-quarters of urban populations in India use this fuel, which is less harmful to human health. India has also committed to electrifying its transportation sector.

According to the report, additional actions could include policies to reduce trash and agricultural burning and the broad adoption of cleaner industrial technologies. The report also recommends supporting efforts to communicate the health risks of air pollution.

The report concludes by enumerating several indirect benefits, referred to as “co-benefits.”

“When households stop using biomass cooking fuels they no longer need to collect firewood, a task traditionally performed by women and girls,” says Dr. Jack. “This frees their time to pursue other activities like education and earning an income.”

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