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Kenyan solar-stove may cut cancer risks caused by burning wood

Solar stove in Kenya   -  
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As data worldwide suggests the number of people with cancer is rising, some poorer nations are looking to find alternatives to cancer-causing fuel sources.

Kenya has seen the introduction of solar-powered cookers which capture the Sun's rays instead of using wood fires which are blamed for half-a-million deaths.

It uses mirrors to focus sunlight to a central point and when it comes to cooking it is an extremely cheap form of solar power.

Cancer survivor, Eunice Wanjiku, believes it is a much healthier way to cook.  

"This cooker is very good," she says. "Since it was brought here I have stopped using firewood. 

"Firewood emits smoke but when I am using the solar cooker, I do not encounter smoke therefore I breathe fresh air. 

"The smoke from the firewood is dangerous to breathe. This cooker is good because we stopped cutting trees to get firewood."

The parabolic cooker can be built easily and cheaply by the women using cement on a metal mesh which is covered with a mosaic of shiny mirrors.

Its inventor is environmentalist Keziah Ngugi who says: "So, if you look at the sky, like now it is blue, that is potential for cooking with the sun. And because we live around the tropics, the potential is immense, it is really huge.”

Smoke from traditional firewood contains a complex mixture of gases and fine particles and cancer specialists say there are clear links to cancer.

Robert Motengo is a radiation oncologist at HCG Hospitalsin Nairobi.

“In relation to cancer, basically this has been linked to some of the respiratory diseases and cancer of the lung as well," he says.

"A study that was done in the U.S. in 2021 has shown an association between these gases, the greenhouse gases with lung cancer and also worsening the prognosis of cancer in those with breast cancer and even in paediatrics cases."

When the sun is not strong enough, conventional cooking fuels are needed but the solar stove could go some way to reduce pollution and save lives.

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