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Opinion & Analysis

Kenyans should embrace use of LPG for cooking

LPG is a mixture of Butane and Propane gases both of which are products of crude oil distillation process.

LPG is a clean and very efficient heat generating source of energy and has been assigned a global warming factor of zero by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change.

Available data has consistently shown that LPG’s Carbon footprint is much lower than that of the substitute fuels such as wood, charcoal, crop residue and animal dung.

When these alternative fuels are used for cooking, they cause high levels of indoor pollution. Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that 3.2 million people die annually from the effects of indoor pollution.

Statistics indicate that 68 per cent of the energy users in Kenya are dependent on biomass with petroleum and electricity contributing 22 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

As a result, our forest cover has continued to diminish with the current cover below the United Nations recommendation of 10per cent . Forests often serve as a Carbon sink since trees utilise carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

This keeps Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in check and by extension helps in reducing the greenhouse effect. It’s worth noting that increased human activity especially industrial and vehicular transport has led to increased levels of carbon dioxide.

The current alternatives to the use of biomass for cooking are kerosene and LPG. However, the use of Kerosene portends higher health risk to the users compared to LPG.

Kerosene stoves often produce soot alongside other pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide, Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide and Sulphur dioxide. Long exposure to kerosene vapours can also cause dizziness, headache and vomiting.

In some instances a severe lung injury condition known as pneumonitis may occur where liquid kerosene is inhaled directly into the lungs for example during the process of siphoning from a tank.

Research has also shown that exposure to kerosene can lead to severe skin conditions such as dermatitis (eczema).

The soot produced during kerosene combustion often leads to scaling and decarburization of the stove resulting to lower stove efficiencies. This means that kerosene stoves require more regular servicing than LPG stoves.

More often, kerosene stove users pay little attention to the need for service and this leads to reduced stove efficiencies. Further, LPG is extremely efficient in heat generation and for this reason the length of time utilised in preparing meals is reduced by almost 50 per cent.

LPG has over time proven to be one of the cleanest sources of cooking fuel and there is urgent need for more people to embrace its use.

This will greatly reduce or effectively wipe out the negative impacts of other sources of energy currently in use and whose drawbacks have been enumerated in this article.

The author is a senior manager, Petroleum at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)

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