Cooking With Firewood and Your Health

1,821Views 0Comments Posted 24/05/2024

Cooking with firewood, a practice that persists in Panama, is not exempt from risks.  In Panama, according to the 2023 census, the province in which most cooking is done with firewood is Veraguas with 18.7% , followed by Bocas del Toro (12.1%) and Darién (7.1%).  In contrast, the lowest numbers occur in the provinces of Panama (0.5%) and Panama Oeste (1.4%).


Although the numbers in the province of Panama are small, the dangers of this practice are not zero.  Oncology specialist, Francisco Orlandi, warns that constant exposure to smoke can increase the risk of suffering from lung cancer.  "Cooking with firewood, charcoal, etc generates exposure to tars, which is a possible cause for someone who, not being a smoker, develops cancer," Orlandi said.


In the Ngäbe Buglé, 75% of the population cooks with firewood and in the Guna Yala, 53.5% also do so.  To try to reduce the risks, doctors advise trying to use dry firewood as much as possible, although it is easy to recognize that with Panama's climate, it can be somewhat complicated.  In addition, you must have good ventilation and maintain a safe distance from the stove.


The head of Medical Oncology at the Thorax Institute of Santiago (Chile) also advocates solar or electric cooking, which would help minimize the risks.  In addition to lung cancer, stove smoke is also associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).


Panama has implemented the ecological stoves program for years, which helps prevent smoke from concentrating in the kitchen, minimizing the risks.

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