Indoor smoke exposure is responsible for two million deaths per year and has been studied globally, but the impacts of exposure have not yet been evaluated in Haiti, the Western hemisphere's poorest nation. This study measures the disproportionate impact of indoor smoke exposure on the women and children of Haiti. We studied 2296 clinic patients in four Haitian villages to determine the extent of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure, using carboxyhemoglobin saturation in the blood as a proxy for overall smoke exposure. We predicted CO levels to be higher in women, who traditionally perform the majority of cooking duties, and in children who accompany their mothers. CO levels averaged 4.9% in women and 3.4% in men. Women of child-bearing age carried a minimum relative risk (RR) for CO exposure of 1.22, relative to all males and younger females. Older females carried no significant difference in risk. Children averaged the lowest CO exposure among all cohorts. These findings demonstrate the burden of indoor smoke exposure that falls disproportionately on women in these regions of Haiti. Global efforts to mitigate indoor exposure have demonstrated the health, economic, environmental and social improvements that are possible by tackling this problem.
- air pollution