Dangers of Cooking with Fire wood

The Silent Killer

Cooking is the process of preparing food mostly through the application of heat. Firewood is the most popular source of domestic energy used for cooking in Africa.

In Nigeria, many homes and indeed restaurants resort to the use of firewood for cooking especially for large families, groups, parties, etc mainly due to the availability, inexpensive nature of firewood and lack of access to modern cooking fuels. But a large number of households are not aware of the hazards that are
associated with cooking with firewood.


Firewood is primarily sourced from felled trees. The major reason for planting trees is for the preservation of the ecosystem and maintenance of good balance.

Deforestation by way of indiscriminate felling of trees for the use as firewood has been a major source of concern. Deforestation causes distortion or imbalance in the ecosystem and should be discouraged.

It is even worst when the people felling trees do not care about replacement. It has been recommended that for every tree you fell, plant four others. This is not being adhered to.


Every log of firewood you see around came from a tree. A tree is a plant with an elongated trunk which supports its branches and leaves.

Importance Of Trees
• Trees provide oxygen (In one year an acre of mature trees can provide
enough oxygen for 18 people.)
• Trees refreshes and cools the environment/ streets and city – Through
shades and releasing vapour into the air
• Trees conserve energy
• Trees save water
• Trees help prevent water pollution
• Trees help prevent soil erosion
• Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays
• Trees provide food
• Trees mark the seasons
• Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife
• Trees clean the air
• Trees provide wood
• Trees combat the climate change

Every stick of firewood you use represents a felled tree that could have provided all of the above and lots more.

But narrowing it back to our discourse, there is already a challenge brewing up as the trees are felled indiscriminately which is a health issue nobody is looking at.

Fire Wood- The Silent Killer
It has been widely reported of the very serious adverse health effect African women face by the continued inhaling of smoke emitted by firewood combustion. This Smoke contains complex gases and fine particles, which affects both the lungs and the heart.

Firewood smoke is a great source of what scientist term fine particle pollution. It is painful that most users of firewood do not know the health hazard they are exposing themselves to.

Fine Particles

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream. Among these particles are “fine particles,” which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller.

Numerous scientific studies have linked fine particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

• Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or
difficulty breathing;
• Decreased lung function;
• Aggravated asthma;
• Development of chronic bronchitis;
• Irregular heartbeat;
• Non fatal heart attacks; and
• Premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

Other Troubles
Aside from the fine particles, the complex gas emitted contain sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and potentially carcinogenic compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, formaldehyde and dioxins , which are known are known to cause cancer, Plus the notorious Greenhouse gas CO2.

The Techno Solution

Small wonder the Executive Vice Chairman of Techno oil ltd, Mrs. Nkechi Obi, MON, related with these facts passionately in a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos, Nigeria. She said,
`Cooking with firewood is a silent killer because firewood smoke is more dangerous than cigarette smoke.’’

Citing a recent World Health Organization report, she said that cooking with firewood often resulted to indoor pollution, which globally accounted for over 4 million deaths every year.

Mrs. Obi, who received Federal Government’s commendation few years ago for the `Going Green’ initiative of her company which is directed at popularizing the use of cooking gas in Nigeria has continued to sustain the effort. She further said that she was looking forward to when most Nigerian households would embrace the use of LPG and reduce the danger Nigerian women are being exposed to.

The Techno oil chief said ``Why must we continue to decimate our women population and keep pretending as if nothing is happening?” Mrs. Obi said this, as she announced the commencement of the construction work of the multi billion Naira LPG Cylinder manufacturing plant which would be producing a minimum of about 5 million cylinders annually.

She noted that When Techno Oil LPG cylinder production plant is completed, it will deepen LPG (Cooking Gas) adopting , create a clean, safe and healthier environment, make cylinders more available and affordable, create jobs and reduce the depletion of our foreign reserves through importation.

True as her words have highlighted; cooking with firewood is a silent killer and the preferred alternative: Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking Gas) which is greener, safer and healthier should be encouraged.

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