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Household fuel use and biomarkers of inflammation and respiratory illness among rural South African Women

Misra, Ankita, Longnecker, Matthew P., Dionisio, Kathie L., Bornman, Riana M.S., Travlos, Gregory S., Brar, Sukhdev, Whitworth, Kristina W.
Environmental research 2018 v.166 pp. 112-116
Africans, C-reactive protein, air pollution, biofuels, biomarkers, blood pressure, blood sampling, burning, chest, coal, confidence interval, cooking, demographic statistics, electricity, feces, infants, inflammation, interleukins, medical history, questionnaires, regression analysis, respiratory tract diseases, rural areas, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, women, wood, South Africa
Though literature suggests a positive association between use of biomass fuel for cooking and inflammation, few studies among women in rural South Africa exist. We included 415 women from the South African Study of Women and Babies (SOWB), recruited from 2010 to 2011. We obtained demographics, general medical history and usual source of cooking fuel (wood, electricity) via baseline questionnaire. A nurse obtained height, weight, blood pressure, and blood samples. We measured plasma concentrations of a suite of inflammatory markers (e.g., interleukins, tumor necrosis factor-α, C-reactive protein). We assessed associations between cooking fuel and biomarkers of inflammation and respiratory symptoms/illness using crude and adjusted linear and logistic regression models. We found little evidence of an association between fuel-use and biomarkers of inflammation, pre-hypertension/hypertension, or respiratory illnesses. Though imprecise, we found 41% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.72–2.77) higher odds of self-reported wheezing/chest tightness among wood-users compared with electricity-users. Though studies among other populations report positive findings between biomass fuel use and inflammation, it is possible that women in the present study experience lower exposures to household air pollution given the cleaner burning nature of wood compared with other biomass fuels (e.g., coal, dung).