Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Indoor solid fuel use and tuberculosis in China: a matched case-control study

Xiaohong Kan1, Chen-Yuan Chiang234*, Donald A Enarson2, Wenhua Chen5, Jianan Yang1 and Genwang Chen1

Author Affiliations

1 Anhui Provincial Tuberculosis Institute, Jixi Road, Hefei. 230022, Anhui, China

2 International Union Against Tuberculosis And Lung Disease, boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006, Paris, France

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, No.111, Sec. 3, Xinglong Rd., Taipei 11696, Taiwan

4 Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, No.250, Wuxing St., Taipei 11031, Taiwan

5 Huai Yuan Center for Disease Control, Shengquan Road, Guobai New City, 233400, Huaiyuan County, Anhui, China

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:498  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-498

Published: 25 June 2011



China ranks second among the 22 high burden countries for tuberculosis. A modeling exercise showed that reduction of indoor air pollution could help advance tuberculosis control in China. However, the association between indoor air pollution and tuberculosis is not yet well established. A case control study was conducted in Anhui, China to investigate whether use of solid fuel is associated with tuberculosis.


Cases were new sputum smear positive tuberculosis patients. Two controls were selected from the neighborhood of each case matched by age and sex using a pre-determined procedure. A questionnaire containing demographic information, smoking habits and use of solid fuel for cooking or heating was used for interview. Solid fuel (coal and biomass) included coal/lignite, charcoal, wood, straw/shrubs/grass, animal dung, and agricultural crop residue. A household that used solid fuel either for cooking and (/or) heating was classified as exposure to combustion of solid fuel (indoor air pollution). Odds ratios and their corresponding 95% confidence limits for categorical variables were determined by Mantel-Haenszel estimate and multivariate conditional logistic regression.


There were 202 new smear positive tuberculosis cases and 404 neighborhood controls enrolled in this study. The proportion of participants who used solid fuels for cooking was high (73.8% among cases and 72.5% among controls). The majority reported using a griddle stove (85.2% among cases and 86.7% among controls), had smoke removed by a hood or chimney (92.0% among cases and 92.8% among controls), and cooked in a separate room (24.8% among cases and 28.0% among controls) or a separate building (67.8% among cases and 67.6% among controls). Neither using solid fuel for cooking (odds ratio (OR) 1.08, 95% CI 0.62-1.87) nor using solid fuel for heating (OR 1.04, 95% CI 0.54-2.02) was significantly associated with tuberculosis. Determinants significantly associated with tuberculosis were household tuberculosis contact (adjusted OR, 27.23, 95% CI 8.19-90.58) and ever smoking tobacco (adjusted OR 1.64, 96% CI 1.01-2.66).


In a population where the majority had proper ventilation in cooking places, the association between use of solid fuel for cooking or for heating and tuberculosis was not statistically significant.

biomass; fossil fuels; indoor air pollution; risk factors; tuberculosis