Solar for Africa Blog
The electric light bulb was invented in the 19th century, yet here we are in the 21st with over 600 million people in Africa forced to light their homes with dangerous, outdated, technologies such as candles and kerosene lamps. This is unacceptable for so many reasons. This site is all how the pico-solar revolution is changing the situation.

Kerosene Kills (Sorry to be all doom and gloom…)

Kerosene lights are used across Africa, every day. It's kinda dangerous....

I’ve just read Bill Bryson’s book ‘At Home’  – great book! You learn all sorts of really interesting stuff about how the world around us has evolved over the centuries (Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb first…that was apparently a chap in Newcastle called Joseph Swan in the 1870s) and where a lot of the phrases we use come from. Such as ‘In the limelight’ … before we had electricity, theatre performances were lit up by heating lime with a rich alcohol/oxygen mix (apparently creates a super bright light). So the actors were literally performing ‘in the lime light’.

So here’s a really relevant quote from the book:

In the 1870’s (prior to the invention of the electric light bulb) kerosene lamp fires were ‘killing as many as 6000 people a year in America alone.’

Here’s another quote:

‘In 1880, nearly two of every five New York City fires were caused by defective kerosene lamps.’  (The Good Old Days–They Were Terrible!  )

Wow?! Imagine if we were all still using kerosene lights and candles everyday….

Based on this, it’s clear that:

The electric light bulb has saved countless lives since its invention in 1879 over 130 years ago.

But – It’s scary to think of how many people around the world have died since then and continue to die across Africa as a result of kerosene fires and indoor health polution each year – especially when you consider that kerosene is often mixed on the black market with other, more combustible, fuels and that people often use cheaper, home made lanterns  which do not have any safety mechanisms. If you do a quick google search on words like ‘kerosene, health, africa, fire’ you’ll quickly see how much of an issue this is, with kerosene causing fire and burns and indoor air pollution in households across the continent.

Or just check this paragraph out from the Solar Sisters website:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that individuals breathing kerosene fumes and soot inhale the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. This can cause asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, heart disease and lung cancer. Every year there are 1.6 million deaths due to indoor air pollution – that is one life lost every 20 seconds.’

When I lived in the village of Uhomini in Tanzania, a house did burn down. It had a straw thatched roof, so it was quickly destroyed – I remember people mentioning that it had been ’caused by children at home.’ At the time, I was impressed with the way the community all clubbed together to help rebuild the house. But that’s not the point here. The point is that we have to try and change the situation . Solar lights can help do just that.

One last thought: ‘Just imagine if you had to burn kerosene fuel everyday at home, just to see what you are doing in the evening.’ 

kerosene, africa, solar


2 Responses to “Kerosene Kills (Sorry to be all doom and gloom…)”

  1. So, TB comes from Kerosene, I don’t think so!
    A bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it. Get your facts straight if you are going to pursue this scare mongering nonsense.

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