Cooking and Range Hoods
This page last reviewed June 2, 2016
Cooking is a necessary and valued activity, but many people may not be aware of its associated indoor air quality and health impacts. Gas stovetop burners and ovens can generate a variety of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde, when the fuel is combusted. The act of cooking itself, whether with gas or electric stovetop burners or ovens, can also generate elevated levels of most of these pollutants, due to heating oil, fat, and other food ingredients, especially at high temperatures. Even ovens that have a cleaning cycle, whether they are gas or electric, can generate high levels of these pollutants. Health problems can include eye, nose and throat irritation; headaches; fatigue; nausea; upper respiratory diseases, including increased asthma symptoms; and other serious lung disease. Young children, people with asthma, and people with heart or lung disease are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of cooking emissions.
Studies have revealed that home air pollutant levels can exceed health-based standards when people are cooking in kitchens with poor ventilation. The best way to ventilate is to use a properly-installed, highly efficient range hood (e.g., high cubic feet per minute [cfm] rating and low sones [noise] rating) to remove pollutants produced during cooking activities. You should also have a qualified technician inspect and tune gas stove burners once per year.
If you have a range hood:
- Check to determine if it vents to the outdoors
- Use it while cooking or using your stove
- Cook on the back burners, if possible
If you do not have a range hood or you have one that recirculates air (does not vent to the outdoors):
- Use a wall or ceiling exhaust fan while cooking
- Open windows and/or doors, that open to the outdoors, while cooking
On this page you will find research reports and articles, videos, and information to help you better understand pollutant emissions and the health impacts from cooking. You will also learn ways you can reduce your exposure to cooking pollutants. If you have any questions regarding the content on this page, please email Zoe Zhang or call her at (916) 445-0753.
Cooking Emissions and Solutions
- Kitchen Ventilation Solutions to Indoor Air Pollution Hazards from Cooking - ARB Research Seminar
- Kitchen Ventilation Solutions to Indoor Air Pollution Hazards from Cooking - Seminar interview (video)
- Looking for Hazardous Pollutants in Your Kitchen - YouTube video by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) with Brett Singer
- Residential Cooking Exposure Study - Summary
- Residential Cooking Exposure Study - Final Report
- Measurement of Ultrafine Particles and Other Air Pollutants Emitted by Cooking Activities - Article (mostly focused on dangers)
- Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) (solutions)
- Ventilation Pointers - GreenPoint Rated (solutions)
Articles may require purchase from the journal or you may be able to find them through a college or university library. Some articles are open access, meaning that anyone from the public has free access to the article online.