What many people do not know, is that the air in their own household could be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, creating and harboring many common outdoor pollutants. Their own daily eating and cooking habits could be a major source.
While this news is often shocking, it should not come as much of a surprise. We are all familiar with common outdoor sources of pollutants, allergens, and contaminants such as the burning of fossil fuels. Now take a look inside your own home. Where do you burn fossil fuels indoors? In the kitchen, of course.
Lean, healthy grilled meats. Cookies and layered cakes. Even a simple piece of toast. The things you cook every day are a major contributor to your home’s indoor air quality, and the different sources used to cook them produce varying levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter that can have a serious impact on your health and wellbeing when they are chronically respiration. In the midst of a pandemic when we are spending even more time indoors than usual, this could become a real problem in many homes. But by staying educated and taking action to reduce or destroy your own emissions, you can create a safer, healthier home environment with less indoor air pollution.
Cooking Sources and Methods
If you cook food inside your home, you are, by default, releasing harmful pollutants into your air. But the type and amount of emissions released depend largely upon your source for cooking.
Gas ovens and cooktops
Just like outside pollution sources, it is the indoor cooking methods that rely on the direct combustion of fossil fuels – most commonly natural gas – that tend to be the biggest offenders in terms of harmful particles released. From roasting, baking, and broiling inside a gas oven to frying, sautéing and even boiling water over a flame, cooking through direct combustion of natural gas produces a larger variety and a higher quantity of harmful particles than non-combustion cooking methods like electric ovens and microwaves.
Electric ovens and cooktops
If you cook on an electric or induction range stove/oven, you may be on track toward a less polluted home. However, you are certainly not out of the woods. While electric ovens and cooktops do not rely on direct combustion, they, like all cooking methods, still produce a variety of harmful particles. Usually, this is at a lesser degree than with a natural gas oven or stove, but particular cases of electric cooking like stir-frying or frying tortillas could potentially produce even higher amounts of particulate matter. In the case of self-cleaning ovens, which rely on extreme temperatures to burn away caked-on debris, both the electric and gas varieties have been found to release high levels of pollutants.
Whether on an electric or gas burner, frying and deep frying release a high amount of harmful emissions into your indoor air. This cooking method requires the oil to be heated to a high temperature, and hot oil emits compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be harmful to your eye and respiratory health.
Minimizing Pollutants from Cooking
Even if you do not cook, outdoor pollutants can infiltrate your home and negatively impact your indoor air quality. Utilizing modern air purification technology in your home can only be beneficial. Some purifiers can remove gases and odors while capturing up to 99.97% of pollutants as small as 0.3 microns. Fresh Air Matters offers innovative and scientifically proven air purifiers, as well as app-enabled air quality readers that not only communicate with the air purifiers to adjust to the purification settings that best fit your needs, but also allow you to track what is in the air you're breathing.