+ Health +

The problem

Kerosene lamps cause poverty, serious health problems, fire hazards and ecological damage. Read about a mother's typical day in Africa.

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The solution

The most affordable solar-powered LED light in the world is replacing kerosene lamps. Read about all benefits it brings to local communities

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About us

Our mission, our vision and our history: we present you the people behind the solar project and their thoughts about a brighter future

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Reducing health problems

Direct benefits for health

Waiting in the school infirmary © ExposedPlanet.com Images, all rights reserved

Waiting in the school infirmary

Our lights basically immediately take away all negative health effects of kerosene lights: the toxic fumes, irritating fluids & fire/burn risks.

These are replaced by clean and safe energy: FlexiWay’s solar-powered, low-voltage LED lights.

Simple as that.

Toxic kerosene fumes cause illness

Kerosene fumes are toxic and can cause all kinds of illnesses. Imagine being in a closed room where a kerosene lamp is burning, creating the only point of light. The flickering wick creates toxic smoke, the soot irritates airways and eyes, which can lead to cataracts and respiratory illnesses.

The world bank estimates that:

780 million women and children breathing particular laden kerosene fumes inhale the equivalent of smoke from two packets of cigarettes a day. Two thirds of adult female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers.”

Children need to study close to the lamps as the light spread of the kerosene lamps is very limited. Unlike our Flexiway Solar-powered LED lights, the kerosene lamps cannot be hung upside down or connected to a wall to shine from above or sideways (read more about the main fire risks of kerosene lamps here).

Alice Njeri lives with her two sisters and their children in a suburb of Nairobi called Kayole. She says the indoor pollution can be difficult to live with.

“The Kerosene lamp emits smoke and gives my children eye problems and the smoke can bring them to tears,” she said. (CNN)

Sick woman inside a Masai boma © ExposedPlanet.com Images, all rights reserved

Sick woman inside a Masai boma

The United Nations Environmental Program says that:

in rural Kenya more women die of smoke-related illnesses than they do of malaria and tuberculosis.

This smoke is from cooking and lighting fuels. But even many Tuberculosis fatalities can be prevented by swithcing from kerosene lamps to solar-powered lights:

In Nepal, UC Berkeley researchers found the odds of having Tuberculosis were more than nine times greater for women using kerosene lamps for indoor lighting, rather than electricity. (Berkeley.edu)

The inflammatory agents in kerosene lamps have been linked with everything from cancer to behavioral deficits.

Smoke from kerosene lamps is responsible for respiratory infections, lung and throat cancers, serious eye infections, cataracts as well as low birth weights.

Acute respiratory infections like influenza and pneumonia kill nearly 2 million children in developing nations each year,more than the annual number of all deaths at all ages from all causes in the European Union. (SELF Newsletter, 2002).

Health effects of kerosene, fires and burns

Kids at school. Healthy children study faster. © ExposedPlanet.com Images, all rights reserved

Kids at school. Healthy children study faster.

Kerosene can be very irritating to the skin when spilled. It is one of the thicker oil derivatives and does not vaporize as quickly as gasoline.

The results of burning kerosene can really be disastrous: burned skin or even death due to burned down houses.

There is simply no reason to expose children and families to such risks if they can easily be prevented by using a solar-powered LED light that is not only completely safe but also cheaper than the kerosene alternative.

Some backgrounds on the adverse effects of Kerosene

Kerosene soot from burning lamps is said to emit dangerous fumes, which are not only environmentally hazardous, but also causes cancer. Various research studies have shown that kerosene lamps can produce a variety of harmful substances, including benzene and toluene, known as carcinogens.

EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), for example, has found more than 20 dangerous compounds in significant quantities, including acetone, benzene, toluene and lead as a result of usage of kerosene lamps.

According to Ivy Mills on the research done on the usage of kerosene lamps, the main concerns relate to high levels of indoor pollutants, particularly soot and lead. This is a major problem considering the fact that air-borne soot can penetrate the deepest areas of the lungs and the lower respiratory tract.

His study further indicated that kerosene lamps may be exposing themselves to inflammatory agents such as carcinogens and teratogens. These may lead to increased risk of cancer, neurological and behavioural deficits and acute aggravation of existing respiratory diseases such as asthma.

The dangers associated with using kerosene lamps are real. Therefore, as a substitute, the rural poor should be encouraged to use solar lanterns – which may appear expensive in the short-run, but cheap in the long-run. Poor people need not only cheap commodities, but also safe and healthy ones.

(from AllAfrica.com. Mr Twine Bananuka is an assistant lecturer at Makerere University)