Prior Fellows’ Research Projects

Ghana Biomass Fuel Project

An African mother preparing a meal

An estimated 3 billion people, largely in the rural developing world, use biomass fuel (wood, charcoal, crop waste, dung) as their primary energy source. These fuels burn inefficiently and produce significant smoke, which has a high concentration of air pollutants, and adds significantly to the global burden of both indoor and outdoor air pollution. These fuels are primarily used by women for cooking.

Madhavi Parekh’s research project in rural Ghana, Kintampo district (Map), includes measurement of lung function and markers of airway inflammation in women who use traditional cookstoves with biomass fuel, and after an intervention with a more efficient cookstove and/or use of clean fuel. This research is being performed in partnership with Patrick Kinney of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, as well as the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) of Ghana, which has a widespread health surveillance system and is involved in other international large scale health research and intervention trials.

Pulmonary effects of in utero and early childhood arsenic exposure in Bangladesh

Alison worked as the pulmonary specialist for Dr. Joseph Graziano's HEALS adolescent cohort, studying the pulmonary effects of in utero and early childhood arsenic exposure in Araihazar, Bangladesh. Through this work, Alison became interested in the contribution of household air pollution secondary to the burning of biomass fuels to respiratory disease. 

Alison performed a pilot study exploring the feasibility of exhaled breath carbon monoxide as a biomarker of biomass smoke exposure, while also administering biomass and respiratory symptom questionnaires, performing spirometry and collecting exhaled breath condensate to analyze for markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. Under the mentorship of Drs. Graziano, Kinney and Jack, Alison created a research protocol to investigate the in utero effects of household air pollution on lung development; she successfully obtained a two-year Early Career Award from the Thrasher Research Fund to implement her research protocol.

Learn more about this project on the Thrasher Research Fund website