Undergraduate students in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences are heading back to Nicaragua this summer to continue research on the health benefits of energy-efficient cook stoves installed in the barrio of El Fortin outside of Granada.
Last summer, students took health samples from 125 study families before the cook stoves were installed. This summer, a new group of students will take new health samples to determine changes in health outcomes.
“Indoor cook stoves result in extremely high levels of indoor air pollution and can lead to severe respiratory and other health problems,” said Dr. Jennifer Peel, an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences and faculty adviser on the Nicaragua cook stove project. “The families in El Fortin received an improved, more energy-efficient stove with proper ventilation. Now we’ll go back to take samples and conduct surveys, and to see how the cook stoves are performing in the field.”
The World Health Organization estimates that pollution from indoor cook stoves kills more than 1.5 million people each year, with millions more suffering from respiratory ailments.
Dr. Peel said the ERHS team has kept in close contact with the women’s group in Nicaragua supporting the project to be sure the cook stoves were functioning properly and being used. One problem early on was easy to fix. The pots the women used were clay and rounded on the bottom so didn’t sit well on the flat-top stove.
“We bought new pots for everybody and that solved the problem,” said Dr. Peel. “Not a big expense for us, but it would have proven to be an insurmountable burden in an area where incomes are so low.”
This summer the group also will replace ventilation systems that are no longer working, and begin to assess necessary on-going training of the local community to determine how best to keep the stoves functioning.
“For our students, this is a great opportunity to see how different research is in the field compared to how simple things are in the laboratory,” said Dr. Peel. “Last year’s students not only learned a lot about research, but also were impressed with the kind nature of the people of El Fortin who have so little, but want to share everything they have.”
The ERHS Nicaragua Cook Stove Project is looking for donations to help fund this summer’s field work. Funds are needed for travel, room and board, supplies, and replacement of materials. To make a tax deductible gift, visit http://advancing.colostate.edu/cvmbs/erhs/give. Go to Step 1 “Gift Information”, click on “Additional Designations”, click on “Other,” and enter “ERHS/Peel Nicaragua Cook Stove Project.” You also can send a check payable to Colorado State University (write Peel/ERHS Nicaragua Cook Stove Project in the memo line), to:
Colorado State University Foundation
PO Box 1870
Fort Collins CO 80522-1870
Current and previous contributors to the cook stove project include: CSU Clean Energy SuperCluster, CSU President's Office, CSU/ CVMBS College Research Council, CSU/CVMBS College Council, Colorado Environmental Health Association, CSU Office of International Programs, and the non-profit organization Trees, Water & People. To learn more, visit the project Web site at http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/erhs/Nicaragua/.