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Pollution-related disease presents global environmental challenge

Around the world, according to researchers, air, soil and water pollution share common themes: lack of adequate pollution regulations and enforcement, a dearth of research on existing and emerging pollutants and scant resources to address ongoing challenges. Three billion people rely on wood, charcoal, agricultural waste, animal dung and coal for household cooking needs, burning these fuels inside their homes in poorly ventilated stoves or open fires. The resulting miasma exposes families to air pollution levels as much as 50 times greater than World Health Organization guidelines for clean air, setting the stage for heart and lung disease. Household air pollution can also cause pneumonia in children and low birthweight in infants. In addition, fires are sources of carbon monoxide and other gases that lead to smog. The heat-trapping gases emitted, when mixed into the global atmosphere, may affect climate. Widespread use of more efficient, or "clean," cookstoves -- which produce less smoke than open fires -- may lower these toxic emissions, scientists have found.

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