Indoor air pollution kills 4.3 million people everyday, and most of them are women and children. Contrast what we might think, households aren’t safe from harmful pollutants as well. Household air pollution is generated by the use of inefficient and polluting fuels and technologies in and around the home. These activities contain a range of health-damaging pollutants.
Just like outside pollution sources, indoor cooking methods also rely on the direct combustion of fossil fuels – most commonly natural gas or coal. From roasting, baking inside a gas oven to frying, and even boiling water over a flame shows dependence on natural gas or woods.
Household Air Pollution
Around 2.4 billion people worldwide (around a third of the global population) cook using open fires or inefficient stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal.
The above-mentioned fuels generate harmful household air pollution.
Household air pollution exposure leads to noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
Cooking also produces unhealthy air pollutants. Self-cleaning ovens, gas or electric, can create high levels of pollutants as food wasted is burned away. Cooking can produce high concentration of particles and gases.
Indoor pollutants released by cooking
Nitrogen Dioxide: Cooking with gas adds 25–33% to the week-averaged indoor NO2 concentrations during summer and 35–39% in winter. NO2 is an irritant of the respiratory system, and can affect the mucosa of the eyes, nose and throat. NO2 concentrations were greater than 50 ppb.
Carbon Monoxide: Gas ovens are the major cause of CO in the kitchens. The gas is called a “silent killer”. Common symptoms of CO poisoning often resemble an onset of the flu, including headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO concentration can be high up to 9ppm during full meal preparation.
Formaldehyde: It can be emitted into our home’s air through cooking, after which it can be inhaled and cause a range of health effects. High-level exposure has been linked to certain types of cancer.
How to minimise pollution from cooking?
With proper ventilation in place, pollutants released through cooking are quickly transferred out of your home. Have an exhaust and enough windows in the kitchen to encourage polluted air to flow out of your home.
Electric ovens and cooktop
Electric ovens and cooktop have come a long way. This gives you complete control over your cooking temperature without the surface of the range ever getting hot, so it is easy to clean and less likely to cause accidental burns.
Plant some herbs in the kitchen. Have a kitchen garden and kill 2 ducks with a stone. Everyday you can use fresh herbs for your food and reduce the pollution.
Even if you do not cook, outdoor pollutants can infiltrate your home and negatively impact your indoor air quality. Therefore, utilising modern air purification technology in your home can only be beneficial. Some purifiers can remove gases and odours while capturing up to 99.97% of pollutants as small as 0.3 microns.
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