This project team addressed two public health issues: sanitation and carbon dioxide, and received support from U-M Engineering through the BLUElab India Project and the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2.4 billion people lack access to sanitation facilities. Of these, 946 million defecate in the open. People use fields, roadsides, bushes, and water bodies as their toilet. Not only does this pollute the environment, but exposure to fecal matter has been linked to a dizzying array of illnesses. To address this complex issue, the team spent a year researching toilet technology, eventually settling on a composting toilet as the best design for this particular application.
Women and their families around the world inhale carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and lung-harming particulates from the simple act of cooking. The culprit? Traditional cookstoves, often situated atop open fires, and without ventilation or protection from toxic fumes. In 2012, WHO reported that exposure to cooking smoke generated from solid-fuel (e.g., wood, animal dung, or coal) burning stoves resulted in 4.3 million premature deaths–more than either malaria or tuberculosis. According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), it is the fourth-leading risk factor for disease in developing countries and has been linked to child pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and low birth weights.
Keywords: cookstoves, sanitation, India, women's health, cooking smoke, Dolatpura, HIV, Ebola, Gujarat