Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Emissions Arising from Domestic Combustion: A Kenyan Case Study


A vast number of people in developing countries rely on solid fuels, including wood and charcoal, for domestic energy supply. We have studied the gaseous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in Kenyan homes in order to better understand the potential health risks associated with domestic combustion practices and to advise mitigation strategies. A comprehensive survey was conducted to elucidate the complex and multi-faceted factors governing fuel use in Kenyan coastal and inland regions. Results showed an almost equal distribution in fuel type usage between firewood, charcoal, kerosene and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). In rural areas, three-stone stoves were still predominant, whilst cleaner devices burning kerosene and LPG were used more widely in urban communities. Indoor air was subsequently sampled in a range of urban and rural households using portable polydimethylsiloxane sampling tubes. These were extracted using the plunger assisted solvent extraction (PASE) technique, followed by GC-MS analysis of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) priority PAHs. Total PAH concentrations in samples collected varied considerably (0.82-173.69 µg/m 3), which could be attributed to differences in fuel type, combustion device, climate, and nature of the households. Higher PAH concentrations were found in rural homes, although ambient PAH concentrations were higher in urban environments, likely due to traffic contributions and population density. Toxicity equivalent quotient values varied widely between households and emphasised the importance of good combustion practices to minimise human exposure.