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BACKGROUND: Cooking and heating in households contribute importantly to air pollution exposure worldwide. However, there is insufficient investigation of measured fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure levels, variability, seasonality, and inter-spatial dynamics associated with these behaviours. METHODS: We undertook parallel measurements of personal, household (kitchen and living room), and community PM2.5 in summer (May-September 2017) and winter (November 2017-Janauary 2018) in 477 participants from one urban and two rural communities in China. After stringent data cleaning, there were 67,326-80,980 person-hours (ntotal = 441; nsummer = 384; nwinter = 364; 307 had repeated PM2.5 data in both seasons) of processed data per microenvironment. Age- and sex-adjusted geometric means of PM2.5 were calculated by key participant characteristics, overall and by season. Spearman correlation coefficients between PM2.5 levels across different microenvironments were computed. FINDINGS: Overall, 26.4 % reported use of solid fuel for both cooking and heating. Solid fuel users had 92 % higher personal and kitchen 24-h average PM2.5 exposure than clean fuel users. Similarly, they also had a greater increase (83 % vs 26 %) in personal and household PM2.5 from summer to winter, whereas community levels of PM2.5 were 2-4 times higher in winter across different fuel categories. Compared with clean fuel users, solid fuel users had markedly higher weighted annual average PM2.5 exposure at personal (78.2 [95 % CI 71.6-85.3] μg/m3 vs 41.6 [37.3-46.5] μg/m3), kitchen (102.4 [90.4-116.0] μg/m3 vs 52.3 [44.8-61.2] μg/m3) and living room (62.1 [57.3-67.3] μg/m3 vs 41.0 [37.1-45.3] μg/m3) microenvironments. There was a remarkable diurnal variability in PM2.5 exposure among the participants, with 5-min moving average from 10 μg/m3 to 700-1200 μg/m3 across different microenvironments. Personal PM2.5 was moderately correlated with living room (Spearman r: 0.64-0.66) and kitchen (0.52-0.59) levels, but only weakly correlated with community levels, especially in summer (0.15-0.34) and among solid fuel users (0.11-0.31). CONCLUSION: Solid fuel use for cooking and heating was associated with substantially higher personal and household PM2.5 exposure than clean fuel users. Household PM2.5 appeared a better proxy of personal exposure than community PM2.5.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Total Environ

Publication Date





Cooking, Exposure assessment, Fine particulate matter, Heating, Solid fuels, Wearable sensor, Humans, Air Pollution, Indoor, Rural Population, Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, China, Cooking, Air Pollutants, Environmental Monitoring