“Exhaust fans filter the air from the room and blow it back out. So, kitchen exhaust fans need to be vented outside” — Paul Ebeling
Kitchen exhaust fans are not just for when you accidentally burn the bacon. They are Key tools for improving indoor air quality, and by extension, protecting human health. But to see the benefits of these fans, you must actually use them regularly.
Exhaust fans help remove moisture, odors and oils that originate with cooking. But they do far more than that.
The kitchen stovetop can create more pollution than some places that have famously filthy air.
For example, in 1 study more than 50% of California homes featuring gas stoves had pollutant levels exceeding limits for outdoor pollution. That is because cooking over high heat produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, fine particulate matter and other potentially dangerous byproducts. Electric stoves don’t produce carbon monoxide and only small amounts of nitrogen dioxide, though they do produce fine particulate matter.
Ducted hoods are the best solution to this problem, as they suck in contaminated air and then vent it to the building’s exterior.
But in many millions of homes like crowded apartment and condo buildings, kitchen ductwork is structurally difficult or even impossible.
So instead, these spaces rely on simple fans, which capture grease and some particulates in a filter but otherwise do very little to remove pollutants. In fact, they simply recirculate the air in the room.
The Big Qs: What are the best ways to combat kitchen smog?
The Big As:
- Be sure the hood is installed between 24 and 30 incs (61 and 76 centimeters) from the stovetop. Many hoods are simply installed too high and this reduces their effectiveness.
- Turn on your exhaust fan every time you cook. If you use a recirculating fan, replace or clean the filter regularly. And realize that although these filters are good for capturing grease, they really aren’t accomplishing much in terms of air pollution. In those situations, opening a kitchen window is your best bet.
- Cook on the back burners, which gives your hood and fans a better chance at grabbing and eliminating contaminants.
- Use the high-speed fan settings to maximize air flow. The Southside of high fan speeds is, of course, that they tend to drown out conversation, but realize that the health benefits are worth it.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively