Over four million people die each year after inhaling smoke from kitchen stoves and fires.

Most victims are women and young children.

But these are deaths that could be prevented - using simple solutions.

More than three billion people worldwide burn wood, dung and coal for cooking, boiling water and heating.

Burning these fuels on basic stoves or three-stone fires release lethal fumes. But women need to feed their families and keep warm – and they can’t get cleaner fuels like electricity or gas. It is their only choice.

“Having an open fire in your kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.” *

* Dr Kirk Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health, UCB

What can we do to stop the killer in the kitchen?

Practical Action has developed simple smoke hoods, which reduce indoor smoke levels by up to 80%.

Fuel-efficient stoves can also help. Affordable and easy to use, they burn smaller amounts of wood more fully – meaning significantly less smoke.

And in some areas, cheap liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or biogas produced from animal dung can provide families with clean, energy-efficient ways to cook without the risks of smoke.

Simple ideas to save lives

Read more about the practical technologies that can reduce smoke from cooking in the kitchen.

Where are we working?

Right now our projects on the ground are fighting smoke – the killer in the kitchen.

In Nepal we are helping families get sustainable smoke hoods and cookstoves that will reduce smoke and save lives.

In Sudan our low-smoke stoves project is using gas to make cooking cleaner. And in Peru we are funding the development of portable cook stoves.

How can you help?

Household smoke is a killer. But we have simple solutions that can stop it.

With your help, we can build more smoke hoods and improved stoves that will stop the killer in the kitchen.


Support our campaign to stop the killer in the kitchen by sharing this video

Watch our 360° virtual reality video
See what it is like to cook on an open fire in a Nepalese home in our new virtual reality video. You can view this on a headset or in your browser.


For over 20 years Practical Action has been leading research into the effects of indoor air pollution, and advocating the large-scale changes that will save lives.

The Poor People's Energy Outlook (PPEO) looks at the health and social impacts of relying on traditional sources of energy

Practical Action Consulting's research has looked at the impacts of clean cooking solutions on women in South Asia

Our 2004 report Smoke: The Killer in the Kitchen helped to start global action on indoor air pollution

We also undertook research in Sudan, Kenya and Nepal to identify, install and monitor sustainable technologies to alleviate smoke

Frequently Asked Questions

Practical Action's new paper Smoke Free Nepal: challenges and opportunities reflects on the main barriers to reaching the Nepali government’s smoke-free target, including its gender dimensions, and recommends actions to accelerate progress.

A new study into the effects of improved stoves in Malawi has suggested that improved stoves do not reduce occurrences of pneumonia in children under 5, as the World Health Organisation and others assert. Read a response from Dr Lucy Stevens, our energy access and clean cooking policy lead, including how this new study relates to our on-going work to stop the killer in the kitchen.


Practical Action's technical information service, Practical Answers, provides free information on many aspects of household energy, improved stoves and ways to reduce indoor air pollution while cooking.

Download free technical briefs and guides on stoves, ovens and reducing indoor air pollution

Practical Action Publishing's books and journals on household air pollution are available to read online for free at developmentbookshelf.com.

We also produce Smoky Homes, a schools project for pupils aged 9-11 to explore the problems associated with household air pollution caused by the use of traditional stoves and three-stone fires to cook food.


Practical Action, in conjunction with Bosch Siemens, have produced the Heathy Smoke Hoods online toolkit that will produce a downloadable technical brief for any individual or organization intending to implement projects to alleviate indoor air pollution.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove's Clean Cooking Catalogue is a comprehensive collection of information about stoves, and the Household Air Pollution Intervention Tool is a useful tool for calculating emissions

How can we save even more lives?

Practical Action works directly with those affected by indoor smoke to cut indoor air pollution and improve health. We also work with governments and other agencies to scale up this approach beyond our own projects.

The Nepali government has announced an ambition for all homes in Nepal to be smoke-free. And the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves aims to provide 100 million clean-burning stoves to households in Africa, Asia and South America by 2020.

The message is spreading. World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched BreatheLife, a global communications campaign to increase public awareness of indoor air pollution as a major health and climate risk.

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