Household air pollution (HAP), arising mainly from the combustion of solid and other polluting fuels, is responsible for a very substantial public health burden, most recently estimated as causing 3.5 million premature deaths in 2010. These patterns of household fuel use have also important negative impacts on safety, prospects for poverty reduction and the environment, including climate change. Building on previous air quality guidelines, the WHO is developing new guidelines focused on household fuel combustion, covering cooking, heating and lighting, and although global, the key focus is low and middle income countries reflecting the distribution of disease burden. As discussed in this paper, currently in development, the guidelines will include reviews of a wide range of evidence including fuel use in homes, emissions from stoves and lighting, household air pollution and exposure levels experienced by populations, health risks, impacts of interventions on HAP and exposure, and also key factors influencing sustainable and equitable adoption of improved stoves and cleaner fuels. GRADE, the standard method used for guidelines evidence review may not be well suited to the variety and nature of evidence required for this project, and a modified approach is being developed and tested. Work on the guidelines is being carried out in close collaboration with the UN Foundation Global Alliance on Clean cookstoves, allowing alignment with specific tools including recently developed international voluntary standards for stoves, and the development of country action plans. Following publication, WHO plans to work closely with a number of countries to learn from implementation efforts, in order to further strengthen support and guidance. A case study on the situation and policy actions to date in Bhutan provide an illustration of the challenges and opportunities involved, and the timely importance of the new guidelines and associated research, evaluation and policy development agendas
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