Biochar Cookstoves Boost Health for People and Crops

Discussion in 'News from around the damp planet' started by Michaelangelica, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

    May 2, 2006
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    Buitrago was just one of three billion people worldwide who rely on such open-fire cookstoves. A recent global health study found that the fumes from those stoves was the largest environmental health threat in the world today, killing 3.5 million people a year—more deaths than caused by malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. (See related blog post: "Cookstove Smoke Is 'Largest Environmental Threat,' Global Health Study Finds.") Cookstoves that burn cleaner can help fight this epidemic, but they can do even more than that when configured to produce biochar, a dark, fine-grained residue that can become a prized asset for rural communities.

    In regions as diverse as the high mountain valleys of Costa Rica and the agricultural fields of western Kenya, biochar cookstoves are being used to simultaneously clear the air and enrich the soil. Biochar, a type of charcoal produced when biomass burns in an oxygen-free environment, can boost water and nutrients in dry, depleted soil while serving as a vehicle for burying the carbon that contributes to global warming.

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