Mostly we worry about inhaling tobacco smoke - our own or someone else's. But smoke from coal fires is not so good either. And in some parts of the world that's how they cook. Here is a study showing how dangerous that is.
In Yunnan, China people cook - or at least they used to - with either smokeless (anthracite) or smoky (bitumen) coal. In this study of a cohort of about 40 000 people recruited from four communes in 1992
"Lung cancer alone accounted for about 40% of all deaths before age 60 among individuals
using smoky coal."
Put another way, people using smoky coal have a 20% probability of dying from lung cancer before age 70.
Table 2 of the paper gives the rates per 100 000. Note that almost all of the men, and hardly any of the women were (tobacco) smokers; and that even smokers rarely died from lung cancer in the smokeless coal group. The discussion section of the paper is worth a careful read.
But now for a rant. I am incensed that this paper has taken 16 years to appear. The fieldwork ended in 1996; it's now 2012. Either this stuff is important or it isn't. And the authors obviously believe it is:
"This finding has important implications for public health"Knowing that this group published an earlier paper in 2005 doesn't make me much happier.