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Millions Die From Indoor Smoke

Half the world's population rely on solid fuel like wood or coal to cook their food. More than half the people who cook on biomass live in India and China, but in many sub-Saharan African countries more than 90 percent of people do so. Tragically, smoke from indoor cooking fires kills one person every 20 seconds in the developing world. Inefficient stoves can be as bad for health as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

For the Thanksgiving holiday I met a native Nigerian, Herbert, who was here on a track scholarship. He could run a 1:49 half mile (the world record is 1:41). It was absolutely amazing to hear of the villages that he grew up in that consisted of mud huts with no indoor plumbing or running water. Amazing that these conditions allow some of the fastest runners in the world to develop. It was a major reminder for me of the amazing abundance that the United States enjoys relative to the rest of the world. One of the most surprising things Herbert shared was that he was most shocked when he saw all the overweight people in the United States. He had never seen an obese person in Kenya and thought the person was seriously ill. Well, in many ways he was right. It was such a contrast for him as he had regularly witnessed people dieing in front of him because they did not have enough to eat.

BBC News November 28, 2003

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