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BACKGROUND: The impact of solid fuel use on life expectancy (LE) in less-developed countries remains unclear. We aimed to evaluate the potential impact of household solid fuel use on LE in the rural and urban Chinese population, with the effect of smoking as a reference. METHODS: We used data from China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) of 484,915 participants aged 30-79 free of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cancer at baseline. Analyses were performed separately for solid fuel use for cooking, solid fuel use for heating, and smoking, with participants exposed to the other two sources excluded. Solid fuels refer to coal and wood, and clean fuels refer to electricity, gas, and central heating. We used a flexible parametric Royston-Parmar model to estimate hazard ratios of all-cause mortality and predict LE at age 30. FINDINGS: Totally, 185,077, 95,228, and 230,995 participants were included in cooking-, heating-, and smoking-related analyses, respectively. During a median follow-up of approximately 12.1 years, 12,725, 7,531, and 18,878 deaths were recorded in the respective analysis. Compared with clean fuel users who reported cooking with ventilation, participants who used solid fuels with ventilation and without ventilation had a difference in LE (95% confidence interval [CI]) at age 30 of -1.72 (-2.88, -0.57) and -2.62 (-4.16, -1.05) years for men and -1.33 (-1.85, -0.81) and -1.35 (-2.02, -0.67) years for women, respectively. The difference in LE (95% CI) for heating was -2.23 (-3.51, -0.95) years for men and -1.28 (-2.08, -0.48) years for women. In rural men, the LE reduction (95% CI) related to solid fuel use for cooking (-2.55; -4.51, -0.58) or heating (-3.26; -6.09, 0.44) was more than that related to smoking (-1.71; -2.54, -0.89). Conversely, in urban men, the LE reduction (95% CI) related to smoking (-3.06; -3.56, -2.56) was more than that related to solid fuel use for cooking (-1.28; -2.61, 0.05) and heating (-1.90; -3.16, -0.65). Similar results were observed in women but with a smaller magnitude. INTERPRETATION: In this Chinese population, the harm to LE from household use of solid fuels was greater than that from smoking in rural residents. Conversely, the negative impact of smoking was greater than solid fuel use in urban residents. Our findings highlight the complexity and diversity of the factors affecting LE in less-developed populations. FUNDING: National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Key R&D Program of China, Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, UK Wellcome Trust.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Reg Health West Pac

Publication Date





Chinese population, Health equity, Household air pollution, Life expectancy, Solid fuel use