Breathe Better in the Kitchen

When we think of air pollutants that can wreak havoc on our health, rarely do we consider the ones that could be inside of our homes. However, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. Even more surprising is that the kitchen can be one of the indoor areas with the highest levels of pollutants.

Kitchen remodel for better air quality

Here are five tips for keeping the air in your cookhouse clean.

Consider Your Cooktop

Scientist Brett Singer, Ph.D., of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, notes that gas burners produce significant quantities of nitrogen dioxide (a respiratory irritant), can produce small amounts of carbon monoxide, and also emit fine and ultrafine particles (these are especially dangerous since they can move throughout the body in ways larger particles can’t). Electric burners, which don’t produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide (but still release particles) may be a better option.

Improve Ventilation

It is key to ventilate air while you cook to remove odors and fumes. When renovating your kitchen, see if it is possible to have the hood/exhaust fan direct outdoors. If this isn’t possible or your current hood only recirculates air back into the kitchen, when weather permits, open windows when cooking. If you are replacing your hood, consider products certified by the
Home Ventilating Institute® like the CaféWall-Mount Glass Canopy Chimney Hood by GE Appliances. Its 350 cubic feet per minute venting system removes smoke, grease, odors, and moisture for cleaner air in your kitchen.

Replace Filters

According to Sylvane, a Georgia-based indoor air quality e-commerce website, most hood ventilation system filters need to be changed around every six months, though the exact lifespan of the filter depends on how often you cook.

Cook on Back Burners

Range hoods can reduce pollutants by 50% or more when cooking occurs on back burners, according to a study at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Use Do-It-Yourself Cleaners

Avoid chemical options and select a homemade solution instead. It is easy to find recipes online and most involve simple ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, and water.

For more information on a home that is healthy for you and the earth, visit https://southface.org and learn about its EarthCraft green building certification program and how to find a green builder/remodeler.