Project at a Glance

Title: Indoor air quality: residential cooking exposures.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Fortmann, Roy

Contractor: ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller, Inc.

Contract Number: 97-330

Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Health Effects of Air Pollution, Indoor Air Quality


A study was performed in a Test House in California to collect data that will provide a better understanding of the impact of residential cooking activities on exposure to particles and gaseous Toxic Air Contaminants. Particulate matter (PM), cabon monoxide (CO), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), elements, and aldehydes were measured. Thirty two tests were performed to measure the impact of cooking during typical cooking activities with gas and electric ranges and to evaluate variables that might impact emissions. The study also included tests of worst-case cooking conditions and of potential exposure reduction methods. The study demonstrated that cooking can produce high concentrations of particles and gases. PM25 concentrations were over 1000g/m3 during stovetop stir-frying, frying of tortillas in oil on the range top burner, and baking lasagna in the gas oven. PM10 concentrations measured in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom ranged from below the detection limit to 3660g/m3 in the 32 tests. Combustion pollutants were elevated in the house primarily during use of the gas range. CO concentrations during cooking periods were generally less than 4ppm, but exceeded 9 ppm during preparation of a full meal and during oven cleaning. NO2 concentrations were greater than 50 ppb during some tests with the gas range and averaged 400ppb during the 5-hr oven cleaning test, exceeding the ARB Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Guideline of 250 ppb over one hour, and representing a significant source of exposure.

Formaldehyde concentrations exceeded the ARB action level of 0.1 ppm (124g/m3) during oven cleaning and broiling of fish. Several PAH compounds were found in the fresh cooking oils used in the study, but the concentrations were low in the house during cooking. The data, however, suggest that additional study is warranted to fully evaluate the impact of cooking on PAH exposure. The results of the study demonstrated the significance of cooking as a souce of exposure to particles and Toxic Air Contaminants. Because of the high variability of the emissions during cooking, it was difficult, however, to quantitatively determine the impact of variables such as food type, cooking method, pan material, or the impact of simple exposure reduction methods.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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