Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paul Anderson demonstrates different cook stoves at the Provost's Global Forum on Wednesday April 12, 2017. The forum runs through Friday. This year's theme is Women's Health & the Environment: Up in Smoke. (The Daily Iowan/Nick Rohlman)

By Jenna Larson, The Daily Iowan

A health and environmental crisis facing nearly half of the world’s people made its way into conversations at the University of Iowa last week.

This year’s Provost’s Global Forum was held from April 12 to 14 in which experts discussed the effects of smoke from cooking stoves can have on health and the environment.

“About half of the world’s population cooks with firewood on some kind of hearth, and the atmospheric pollution from that accounts for about 20 percent of the atmospheric pollutants in the world,” said Jerry Anthony, a UI associate professor of urban and regional planning who was also one of the event organizers.

As women cook, they inhale smoke from stoves, which is full of hazardous chemicals and materials, Anthony said. Additionally, he said, 4 million women die from indoor air pollution.

These stoves also lead to deforestation, because people cut down trees close to where they live for their fires, he said.

“What we are trying to do is spread some awareness about the problem on campus and in the area,” Anthony said. “And also start conversations among people who have been researching this for several years, as well as working out in the field trying to make changes on the field.”

The forum started April 12 with the Joel Barkan Memorial Lecture, followed by a cooking-stove demonstration to show not only how it works but also how the smoke emission can cause health and environmental issues.

The event concluded with a “WorldCanvass” talk titled “Women’s Health and the Environment: Going Up in Smoke.” The three-part talk focused on cooking stoves and the environment, the health consequences of burning biomass, and potential policy solutions.