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What Is The Greatest Source Of Indoor Air Pollution In Developing Countries?

In this article, we will try to answer what is the greatest source of indoor air pollution in developing countries and some related questions. Read on for more.

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According to WHO, about half the population in the world faces the threat of indoor air pollution from traditional forms of domestic energy. As such, it is vital to research the issue. 

One of the most significant problems people are concerned about is the question regarding what is the greatest source of indoor air pollution in developing countries.

Indoor air pollution is a form of contamination inside a building such as houses and workplaces that causes air dangerous to breathe in. Researchers have found a link between it with a wide range of lung diseases such as COPD, asthma, and lung cancer.

Who Is Most Affected By Indoor Air Pollution In Developing Countries

As per WHO and EC, certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others to indoor air quality. These groups include young children, pregnant women, and housewives. 

People older than 65 years of age and people with lung or cardiovascular conditions also fall in this category.

The burning of waste for energy in rural areas poses a great threat to people’s health.
The burning of waste for energy in rural areas poses a great threat to people’s health.

Certain studies on outdoor air quality also indicate that children are more susceptible to some pollutants than adults. It is even more severe since toxins can permanently damage and disrupt fetuses and children’s lung and health development.

The human bodies’ ability to fend off chemicals and toxins from the air will decrease with greater age. So, senior citizens are also at a higher risk of being harmed by air pollution.

What Is The Greatest Source Of Indoor Air Pollution In Developing Countries?

The problem directly results from domestic energy sources from burning traditional fuels such as firewood, coal, crop waste, or dung. That’s to say these fuels and their burning are the most significant source in most cases.

The combustion of these solid fuels leads to the release of particulate matter and airborne toxins such as nitrogen oxides, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals. Especially in an enclosed environment and small households, these substances further worsen respiratory diseases.

Coal burning releases harmful chemicals
Coal burning releases harmful chemicals

Poorer households and families in the Third World must rely solely on solid fuels as a domestic energy source. So, the effects on those residents are higher than in more developed areas, where people have easier access to clean fuels.

It also partly explains why indoor air pollution is a bigger problem in developing countries than in developed ones.

Why Is Air Pollution Worse In Developing Countries?

Poor air quality, in general, or indoor air pollution, is worse in developing countries compared to developed countries not only because of traditional fuels but also due to many other factors.

First, we can safely assume that the Third World often lacks technology and resources to protect themselves from pollutants. Due to economic reasons, it is harder for people in poorer nations to access modern, clean energy sources.

What’s more, there is a lack of technology in these nations. So, it is harder for a poorer country to deal with emissions and invest in safer cooking and heating methods. 

Lastly, developing countries also often struggle with policy barriers and lower awareness of the environment and health. This leads to the continuous usage of unreliable energy sources. Combined with a large population, it is tough to overcome such uphill battles.

Indoor Air Pollution In Developed Vs. Developing Countries: What Are The Differences?

While poor air quality is a greater threat in developing countries, developed nations such as the U.S. are not free from it either. The damage and death rate are much lower in wealthier nations, but they also face other sources of household pollutants.

Which Two Pollutants Are The Top Two Responsible For Lung Pollution In The United States?

Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor Air Pollution

The two most prominent pollutants in the United States are cigarette smoke and radon. Though cigarette smoke is more of a human source, it kills 160,000 people due to lung cancer each year, while radon takes 21,000 lives from lung cancer annually.

List Common Sources Of Indoor Air Pollution In The Developed World

Cigarette smoke and radon contribute to a lot of lung cancer cases every year. Still, they are not the only sources of household pollutants in developed nations. 

Other significant sources include pet dander, mold, pesticides, ozone from air cleaners, and other volatile organic compounds during showering, cooking, etc. 

What Would Do The Most To Reduce Indoor Air Pollution In Developing Countries?

Although the issue is a global, complex one, there are several solutions we can use to minimize the effect of household pollutants in the developing world.

Firstly, the government must play a key role in establishing and maintaining air quality standards before and during heavy industrialization. 

This includes but is not limited to using clean transportation, clean energy usage, taking measures to control emission, and investing in reliable energy sources.

The government can do so much to scale down the sources of air pollution. And citizens must raise their awareness on the matter. Start with a better understanding of risks from using traditional fuels and cooking methods. Then learn to start implementing cleaner energy in their daily life.


What is the greatest source of indoor air pollution in developing countries? We hope that this article is sufficient to answer this question.

This type of pollution is a long-term, international issue and is impossible to resolve overnight. Since it affects billions of people, we must take it more seriously to minimize its effect, especially in developing countries.

And of course, such a matter calls for the collaboration and effort of the governments and people everywhere in the world.


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