Tips for a Pollution-Free Kitchen

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Dr. Brett Singer, Staff Scientist and Principal Investigator in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was recently on the Leonard Lopate Show to talk about indoor air pollution caused by cooking. According to the Berkeley Lab's study, the long term health effects of indoor pollutants is on par with that of car accidents and infectious disease, and the pollution we create in our kitchens can be a large part of that problem. Dr. Singer shared a few tips about cooking safely.

Avoid exposure to candles and air fresheners. They are a source of fine particles, and can be irritants in their own right.

Use the range hood or kitchen exhaust fan every time you cook, and make sure the smoke vents to the outdoors. Otherwise, the pollution will simply recirculate in your home.

Set the fan to the highest setting that noise is tolerable. If you are buying a new range hood, look for ones with sone ratings of less than 3, and ideally less than 1.5 -- these will be less noisy.

When installing a new range hood, make sure it covers both the back and front burners. If your existing range hood does not extend over the front burners, cooking on the back burners could make the hood up to twice as effective at removing pollutants.

To test if an existing fan is working, use the "toilet paper trick." Hold a small piece of toilet paper up to the fan. If the paper does not move, the fan is not working.

Make sure vent screens are clear of grease and dust. Some screens can even be washed in the dishwasher.

If you don't have a range hood, cook with the window open or with an exhaust fan. You can even use a common household fan and point it towards the window.

Any other tips? Please leave a comment!