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Data from the China Kadoorie Biobank has revealed the serious harm of indoor use of solid fuels to the life expectancy of the Chinese population, especially in rural areas.

A new publication in Lancet Regional Health reveals that solid fuel use is strongly associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality from several chronic diseases, but its impact on population life expectancy is unclear. Data from more than 480,000 people, followed for an average of 12 years, were investigated. Analyses showed rural men who used solid fuels for cooking or heating had lower life expectancy than those who used clean fuels (e.g. electricity, gas and central heating), with a life expectancy reduction of 2.55 years and 3.26 years respectively, whereas smoking was associated with a reduction of 1.71 years. In comparison, the reduction in life expectancy associated with smoking in urban men was slightly larger (3.06 years for smoking versus 1.28 for using solid fuel for cooking and 1.90 years for using solid fuel for heating, respectively). The results for women in the study were largely similar.

The study confirmed that health impacts caused by solid fuel use should not be ignored and promoting clean energy supply is a critical strategy to improve health equity across countries and regions.