EPA’s Next Target: Off-Grid Cooking Stoves

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Cooking_snags_over_campfireThe EPA may be preparing to take its battle against greenhouse gases into the kitchen. The agency has revealed that it is financing research on cooking stoves to test for air-pollutant levels and energy efficiency.

“This research will help to improve air quality, protect public health and slow climate change,” an EPA press release claimed.

The agency is paying for research to examine wood, charcoal, coal and even dung-burning stoves that are used some in America – off-grid rocket stoves are one example — but also in many developing countries. Most Americans cook with electricity, natural gas and propane. Cooking stoves are popular among campers, off-gridders and survivalists.

“Nearly half of the people in the world still depend on the burning of biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues, and dung) and coal in rudimentary cook stoves or open fires to cook their food,” a post on theEPA website noted. “People in developing countries, primarily women and children, are exposed to smoke with high concentrations of pollutants such as fine particles composed of toxic compounds.”

The EPA is paying $9 million to six universities to study new technologies and the “climate benefits of cleaner cooking methods.” Research will “focus on measuring and communicating the benefits of adopting cleaner cooking, heating, and lighting practices.”

The agency is participating in what is called the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which wants to encourage the use of Clean Cooking Technologies. The alliance is trying to develop safer and cleaning cooking devices for persons in the developing world. Its website does not say how those people will be able to pay for the new technologies.

The EPA’s grants were awarded to:

  • University of California, Berkeley, California, which “will explore the relationship between household and village-scale pollution to understand the effectiveness of cookstove interventions.”
  • rocket-stove-pic-1University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, which will use “small, inexpensive sensors to better monitor human exposure to residential burning pollution” and also “collect data through health assessments and outdoor air quality measurements in Ghana.”
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, which will use “cookstove interventions in China, India, Kenya, and Honduras to explore the emissions, chemistry, and movement of indoor cookstove smoke”
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, which “will investigate how local resources affect community acceptance of heating stove interventions.”
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, which will “measure changes in air quality and health outcomes from cleaner cooking and heating technologies.”

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