Margo Klar, MPH '11
San Vicente, Honduras
I completed a pilot study over the summer in the town of San Vicente in the Western Highland Region of Honduras. The goal of my research was to assess if treated cooking stoves lessened indoor air pollution levels and respiratory symptoms in a target sample of 70 homes. Stove treatment means replacing a traditional, unvented stove with a stove that is designed to be more efficient and emit less particulate matter into the home, thereby potentially resulting in decreased respiratory symptoms. My primary objectives were to determine if particulate matter and carbon monoxide concentrations measured over a 24-hour period were lower in 35 homes with the stove treatment versus the levels in 35 homes without, and to determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms experienced by the women and children in these homes over the previous six months while controlling for income, education, occupation, smoking and trash burning characteristics. This project was a valuable learning experience. I formulated and conducted my own public health study in a rural environment that had minimal resources. My findings could potentially improve the health of a group of Hondurans who do not have the resources to readily improve their own health situation.
Margo Klar - Honduras
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- A woman prepares a meal over a wood stove.
- Making tortillas by hand with my home-stay family’s housekeeper in San Vicente, Honduras.
- A traditional Honduran kitchen with a hornilla (open cook stove) and the family’s housekeeper.
- A justa (an improved cook stove) and about a week’s worth of firewood.
- A traditional cook stove that is about 20 years old. This stove had a very ineffective chimney, which only removed about half of the smoke, leaving the rest in the house for the family to be exposed to.
- Calibrating the flow rate of a pump that is attached to a photometric particulate matter measuring device and an electrochemical CO monitor. This set up is hung from the ceiling and used to estimate the amount of suspended particulate matter that a Honduran woman may be exposed to over a 24-hour period.
- Checking the flow rate of a pump in a kitchen that has an improved cook stove. The ceiling is still black from the previous traditional cook stove that lacked an effective chimney.
- The equipment that was used to measure particulate matter and carbon monoxide is suspended from the ceiling for 24 hours using zip ties attached to wood rafters.
- The device that gives a photometric reading of the concentration of particulate matter. In the upper right hand corner of the device is the vortex that separates the large particles that are greater than 2.5 microns from the ones that are smaller than 2.5 microns so that a 24-hour physical sample could be collected. Attached to the back right side (cylindrical shaped) is the electrochemical carbon monoxide measuring device.
- Not all homes have wood rafters and the equipment had to be strategically attached to the wall. Notice the color of the ceiling from the high levels of indoor air pollution.
- A makeshift chimney carries some of the indoor air pollution out of a typical Honduran home.
- This outdoor oven is called a horno and is used for baking sweet bread. These types of stoves are only used on special occasions because they are labor intensive and require a large amount of firewood, which produces a lot of smoke.
- Taking measurements in the kitchen of a low-income family. This kitchen is only about 30-square feet and has no electricity or running water.
- A close-up of the vortex that separates the large particles that are greater than 2.5 microns from the ones smaller than 2.5 microns. The particles that were separated out can be seen on the inside.
- A two-day old infant that was adorable but had a very low birth weight. The child had an eye infection, which I was told was normal by the family.
- A mother and her son are on their way back from a clinic that is a two-hour trek from where they live. The child had been sick for a couple of weeks with the flu. The family did not buy the recommended medicine because they could not afford it.
- A young Honduran boy shows off his pet bird.
- Checking the flow rate of the pump in the home of an elderly woman that had a traditional stove without a chimney. The indoor air pollution was so severe that after a 24-hour sampling period the pump overheated and the sample had to be taken again. Particulate matter is responsible for the dark color of the ceiling and the walls.