Background: Household air pollution (HAP) is a recognised risk factor for many diseases, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular/circulatory disorders, adverse pregnancy outcomes and cataracts. Population exposure to biomass fuels, including wood, varies among countries and from one fuel source to the other. This study aimed to investigate the different sources of HAP in peri-urban and rural communities in Cameroon.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a representative sample of households from the Dschang Health District ( DHD) region. This included 848 homes in which a range of fuels for cooking including biomass (firewood, charcoal, sawdust), kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) were used both indoors and outdoors.
Results: Of the study households, 651 (77%) reported exclusive use of firewood and 141 (17%) reported using more than one source of fuel. Exclusive use of firewood was greater in rural communities (94%) than in peri-urban communities (38%). In peri-urban communites, use of multiple fuels including LPG, wood, sawdust and kerosene, was more common (44.75%). A total of 25.03% of households in both peri-urban and rural communities reported using bottled gas (or liquified petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking. Motivations for choice of fuel included, price, availability (easy access), rapidity, tradition or culture related factors.
Conclusions: Work to help households (especially those who are resource poor) to adopt LPG equipment for cooking, and use in a more exclusive way is required. Education could help address some of the concerns over the use of LPG.