Indoor air pollution from cooking affects everyone. Most of us are not even aware of it. COVID-19 has brought attention to air quality as we try to avoid the virus. If you live in newer housing, you are more likely to have a kitchen that is ventilated, if you live in an older apartment or house, you may not. There are ways to fix this though! Updating housing codes and finding funds to help low income families are good ways to lower cooking pollution.
What are air pollutants from cooking?
Most of us don’t even realize we are breathing pollution because we can’t see it. Particles are defined as a mix of small and solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. These particles or pollutants may come from a gas stove top, for example. Mostly they are in the atmosphere and they react with other chemicals in the air.
Pollution can be made up of:
- Organic chemicals
- Allergens (mold spores and pollen)
Pollution causes problems with breathing, and can make diseases, like asthma, worse. Kids have extra risk of asthma when around these pollutants. Examples of breathing problems are heart disease, asthma, and even cancer. Pollution from cooking includes boiling water and frying foods.
Who is at risk?
- Older Adults
- People with lung and heart disease
- People with low incomes
Most of us cook, so we need to pay attention.
- Have good air flow in your kitchen. Install a vent system or open a window and use fans during and after cooking.
- The pandemic means more people are spending more time at home. By installing kitchen exhaust systems in older homes, air pollution goes down. New homes should be required to have venting for kitchens.
- Use funds from grants to repair and store older homes and apartments.
- Share information with the public about how to improve air flow inside homes.
For more information and to see the complete publication, visit the Environmental Law Institute’s 2021 article.