The use of paraffin for cooking causes concerns for the health of the environment and the people:

The Environment

There is a seasonal brown haze that surfaces over Cape Town, which is largely caused by the burning of paraffin and other items.  Khayelitsha in particular was identified as an area in the Western Cape which has poor air quality that produces many serious health risks (State of Energy Report, 2007).  Cape Town has begun to implement a plan called the Khayelitsha Air Pollution Strategy (KAPS), which primarily aims to reduce air pollution and minimize health risks.  This is a step in the right direction for the informal settlements which we tried to follow by choosing stoves that had a legal level of emissions (current flame stoves are illegal).

The People

boy at stove presentationFurthermore, paraffin is toxic if swallowed. In the past, children have been known to drink paraffin unknowingly since bottles were not properly labeled.  Paraffin also releases carcinogenic gases into homes, and is a main cause of respiratory infections in the community (Brent, 2009).  Burning hazardous fuels indoors can distribute high pollutants such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other organic compounds into the shacks. Exposure to indoor air pollution has been associated with a number of adverse health outcomes, including  Acute Lower Respiratory Infections (ALRI) such as pneumonia amongst children less than five years old (MRC, 2004). According to UNICEF, respiratory illness from air pollution is the fourth highest cause of death in children under five in South Africa (Ward, 2008).  Despite this, no systematic household air pollution monitoring is in place within the City of Cape Town (State of Energy Report, 2007). Due to the multitude of health risks associated with paraffin usage, we made it a priority for the stoves we find to reduce these harmful effects to better the health of the residents in the settlement.