Buying an air purifier for your kitchen
As one of the most important rooms in a home, the kitchen is a space where loved ones come together to share meals. Friends and family alike all gather here to spend valuable time together. These invaluable moments are what we should be focused on rather than worrying about breathing in potentially dangerous airborne particles. How is air pollution formed as a result of kitchen activities? Read more below about indoor air pollution in the kitchen and how a high-quality air purifier for your kitchen can help remove airborne contaminants from the room.
Air pollutants in the kitchen
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.4 million people around the world cook using inefficient stoves or open fires that generate household air pollution1. In general, the kitchen is one of the rooms of the home that contains the most indoor air pollution. The methods of energy used for cooking can be a source (especially when using natural gas and/or wood). Likewise, the cooking process itself is a pollution source, releasing particles into your space that are dangerous to breathe.
Homes have different heat sources for preparing food. Many of these heat sources create their own air pollution. Some of the most popular sources of heat and energy used to cook food include gas, wood and other biomasses, kerosene, coal, and electricity.
As far as indoor air pollution is concerned, the two most dangerous types of fuel used for cooking are natural gas and wood. These fuel types have become synonymous with indoor air pollution. When natural gas is burned, it emits:
- Carbon monoxide (a toxic, tasteless, colourless gas also called ‘the silent killer’ that can kill if inhaled in poorly ventilated spaces)
- Carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change)
- Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
- Other harmful pollutants and particles2
Wood stoves, on the other hand, are responsible for releasing particulate matter (PM, or fine particle pollution) into the air. PM has a myriad of negative health effects such as various cancers, respiratory diseases, birth defects, and pregnancy complications. It has even been linked to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
The cooking process
Cooking itself can also release a host of air pollutants and particles into your space. They range from VOCs to unpleasant smells that are left behind. The level and type of air pollutant emitted are strongly affected by ingredients, cooking oils (and their quality), and fuels used in addition to the method of cooking. Cooking at high temperatures, particularly deep frying and grilling, can put you most at risk. Ovens that are self-cleaning can also be a source of indoor air pollution in the kitchen (even extending to other rooms), as they burn bits of food waste.
Indoor household pollution often consists of sulphurous, nitrogenous, volatile fatty acids, hydrocarbons, and alcohol compounds. Aldehydes, which irritate our eyes and skin, are also commonly released during cooking. Once these contaminants are released into the air, they cling to fabrics and surfaces and can linger for days.
One study found that preparing a typical Christmas meal can produce higher levels of PM2.5 than found on the streets of New Delhi, India3. Surprisingly enough, another study found that PM2.5 levels are highest during breakfast time. The study detected VOCs, CO2, NOx, and fine particles in the room where food was prepared4.
In addition to releasing air pollutants, cooking can lead to unpleasant odours in the kitchen and other rooms in the home. These smells can stick around for days in your space. Some foods are infamous for this, including bacon fat, fish, and curry. Furthermore, certain odours like those emitted from garbage bin, sink, garbage disposal, or dishwasher can all impact your daily well-being.
Health problems associated with indoor air pollution
Compounds found in indoor air pollution, especially fine particles, ultrafine particles, nanoparticles, and VOCs, cause various health effects. Some symptoms are unpleasant but considerably mild like headaches, nausea, fatigue, dermatitis, dizziness, chest tightness, and nose and throat irritation2. Others are more serious and debilitating, including respiratory disease and lung cancer in non-smokers. Indoor air pollution often aggravates pre-existing conditions especially asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), other respiratory illnesses, and heart disease. These symptoms are similar to those diagnosed as a result of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Read about Sick Building Syndrome here.
For those using gas stoves, a shocking scientific review was published in 2020. The review found that due to gas stove usage, ‘tens of millions of people are exposed to levels of air pollution in their homes that would be illegal outdoors based on national air quality standards’5.
Everyone is at risk of the negative effects of household air pollution. Unfortunately, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised are the groups most at risk. In fact, the WHO has shown that women and children are disproportionately impacted by household indoor air pollution on a global scale1.
How to protect yourself from indoor air pollution in the kitchen
Air pollution specialists cannot emphasise enough the importance of cooking in kitchens or rooms that are well-ventilated. Open windows and doors in the room to encourage air flow that will push pollution particles out of your space and let clean air in.
Another recommendation is to install a hood or range fan over your stovetop or hob to reduce airborne particle pollution. Unfortunately, according to a 2012 study, hoods and range fans in the kitchen have varying quality and performance rates on indoor air pollution. Their efficiency can range anywhere from 15 to 98 percent6. It is also common for people who have these technologies installed in their kitchen to choose not to use them, finding them too noisy or forgetting about them entirely.
On a larger scale, the WHO has provided a list of steps that we can all take to protect ourselves from the dangers of indoor air pollution. In the words of the WHO, ‘fighting air pollution is everybody’s responsibility’.
- At the national government scale: invest in innovation, research, and education that support clean air and energy initiatives.
- Cities and local communities: all public policy must emphasise and consider public health from the very beginning.
- Individuals: hold your governments accountable by standing up for your right to clean air.
- Everyone: consider the way you live and make changes.
- Reduce your contributions to air pollution by switching to greener alternatives wherever they exist.
- Reconsider your methods of transport, fuel, consumer products, and food, to name a few7.
The WHO also recommends air purification as an excellent way to remove pollutant particles from your air. An air purifier can protect you and your loved ones in the kitchen and everywhere at home from indoor air pollution.
The benefits of an air purifier in your kitchen
A high-quality air purifier helps to control the amount of daily air pollutants that you inhale in your space. By installing an air purifier in your kitchen (or other room where you prepare food) close to the source of indoor pollutants, you can remove airborne particles. Some particles that linger in your breathing air at home may include fine particles, smoke, VOCs, and other toxic compounds. This is an effective way to avoid developing symptoms of irritation or inflammation and contracting diseases caused by indoor air pollution, putting your health and well-being first.
Additionally, a quality air purifier equipped with odour-fighting technologies like activated carbon filters can help to remove unpleasant smells from your kitchen and/or other rooms. Say goodbye to the residual smells left over from fried foods, fish, and more.
How to choose an air purifier for your kitchen?
When doing your research for an air purifier for your kitchen, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
Consider the filter type
An air purifier equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is highly recommended for a kitchen. HEPA filters filter all airborne contaminants down to a size of 0.01 microns. This includes all fine and ultrafine particles! However, it is highly recommended to search out a device with multiple filtration technologies in order to remove all types of pollutants from your space.
Activated carbon filters are well-known for their ability to remove unpleasant odours and smells but also for combatting VOCs. HEPA filters are unable to capture all VOCs, making an activated carbon filter an essential technology in an air purifier. Together with photocatalysis technologies, which also fight against VOCs, you can rest assured that all VOCs will be removed from your breathing air. Keep in mind that air purifiers that do not come equipped with activated carbon filters or a similar adsorbing media filter will not combat bad odours.
Ionisation technologies make a perfect complement to the aforementioned technologies. They serve as another line of defence in absorbing fine particles (Eoleaf’s devices serve as dual air purifier-ionisers!).
Consider the source(s) of air pollution in your kitchen
An air purifier works best when it is in close proximity to the source of air pollution. In a kitchen, this means next to your oven or stovetop or hob. If you hope to remove odours as well, it would be ideal to purchase a device that is easily moveable – Eoleaf’s devices come with convenient wheels and handles, for example. This allows you to move it closer to a smelly garbage bin or sink if needed.
Your device should be installed at least two inches from the nearest wall. Larger, more powerful air purifiers, like Eoleaf’s, are floor-standing, so be sure to find a convenient location to place it that will be out of the way whilst you move around the kitchen. The ideal spot for an air purifier in the kitchen is in the corner of the room, allowing for optimal air circulation and better removal of contaminants.
Consider the size of your kitchen or room
This is a crucial step as you seek out an air purifier for your kitchen! Air purifiers are designed to filter the air in rooms of a maximum size. Ensure that your device is properly sized to your kitchen so that it will operate at optimum efficiency. If your device is sized too small for the room, it will not be able to thoroughly remove pollutants from the air. Furthermore, this will force the air purifier to work harder than its design intended, and it will burn through filters faster.
You should also consider the air purifier’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) rating. This metric measures how much clean air the unit can produce in a room within a given time. Refer to our Buying Guide to learn more about CADR.
Consider smart features
Some devices offer features and options that make your air purification efforts significantly easier. Certain, more modern devices are able to connect to a Wi-Fi network and be controlled via mobile app. Smart air purifiers allow you better to understand your kitchen’s air quality at any time.
Smart features are particularly convenient whilst you are cooking. With your hands busy, it is challenging to move away from the stove to walk across the room and turn on your air purifier or change the fan settings. Units with smart functions (such as Auto mode) or a remote control make this easy. Eoleaf’s devices come equipped with all of these smart features and can even be controlled via hand gestures or voice commands!
Consider your budget
Air purifiers generally have three budgetary categories to keep in mind: 1) the initial cost of the device, 2) the maintenance costs, and 3) the costs of the associated energy consumption. The price tags of air purifiers can vary significantly based on the technologies and features they offer. Devices with more smart features tend to be a bit more expensive than simpler devices. However, all air purifiers require regular filter changes in order for your device to continue to remove indoor air pollutants from your air. Lower quality filters usually require replacements multiple times per year, whereas higher quality filters only require annual replacements. Also, be sure to search for a device that is as energy efficient as possible. Low energy consumption means a lower energy bill!
We are here to answer any questions you might have about purchasing an air purifier for your kitchen. Do not hesitate to contact us. We have also put together a convenient Buying Guide to assist you in choosing the perfect air purifier for your needs.
1 World Health Organization. (2022, November 28). Household air pollution. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/household-air-pollution-and-health
2 Indoor Air Pollution from Cooking. California Air Resources Board. (n.d.). https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/documents/indoor-air-pollution-cooking
3 Patel, S., Sankhyan, S., Boedicker, E. K., DeCarlo, P. F., Farmer, D. K., Goldstein, A. H., Katz, E. F., Nazaroff, W. W., Tian, Y., Vanhanen, J., & Vance, M. E. (2020). Indoor particulate matter during HOMEChem: Concentrations, size distributions, and Exposures. Environmental Science &amp; Technology, 54(12), 7107–7116. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.0c00740
4 Farmer, D. K., Vance, M. E., Abbatt, J. P., Abeleira, A., Alves, M. R., Arata, C., Boedicker, E., Bourne, S., Cardoso-Saldaña, F., Corsi, R., DeCarlo, P. F., Goldstein, A. H., Grassian, V. H., Hildebrandt Ruiz, L., Jimenez, J. L., Kahan, T. F., Katz, E. F., Mattila, J. M., Nazaroff, W. W., … Zhou, Y. (2019). Overview of homechem: House observations of Microbial and Environmental Chemistry. Environmental Science: Processes &amp; Impacts, 21(8), 1280–1300. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2019/em/c9em00228f
5 Seals, B., & Krasner, A. (2020). Gas stoves: Health and air quality impacts and solutions. RMI. https://rmi.org/insight/gas-stoves-pollution-health
6 Delp, W. W., & Singer, B. C. (2012). Performance assessment of U.S. residential cooking exhaust hoods. Environmental Science & Technology, 46(11), 6167–6173. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/es3001079
7 World Health Organization. (2019, November 15). Health consequences of air pollution on populations. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news/item/15-11-2019-what-are-health-consequences-of-air-pollution-on-populations