When we think of air pollution we often think of factory chimneys or vehicle exhausts. However, indoor pollution caused by burning inefficient solid fuels still poses major health risks to people around the world. The Indian state of Gujarat is tackling this with natural gas.

Across India an estimated half a million deaths a year are linked to indoor pollution, according to the World Health Organization. A further 5 million people suffer from connected illnesses such as lung cancer and eye problems.

Major causes of indoor pollution are solid fuels like wood, coal and even animal dung that some 700 million people in the country still depend on for cooking.

Not only are the fumes from these fuels dangerous, but gathering them and building fires can take hours – tiring work that women and children typically toil over.

But in Gujarat, Shell is collaborating with a government-led initiative to connect natural gas pipelines to people’s homes, helping to improve lives.

These pipelines feed gas stoves, allowing people to cook at the turn of a dial, eliminating dangerous fumes from solid fuels, and freeing up time for those who used to search for fuel.

“When we started using gas we had extra time for work,” says Rameelaben, a woman living in a rural village in Gujurat. “With extra time on hand, we work as house help and earn 1,500 rupees (approximately $23) more per month.”

The government aims to expand the supply network to more states, so gas can help save lives and offer a better standard of living for people in other parts of the country.

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