We're Not Paying Enough Attention to Kitchen Ventilation

Exposure to kitchen pollutants is a significant and overlooked health hazard in homes. The home performance industry pays great attention to protecting against exposures to combustion pollutants from water heaters and furnaces, but very little attention to an unvented combustion device that is used nearly every day: the kitchen range. A recent LBNL study looked at the chronic health impacts of exposure to pollutants from cooking burners and determined that the risks are not trivial, especially considering our findings on the prevalence of kitchen ventilation and its use (12).  And the popular media are beginning to take notice (herehere, and here).  

Kitchen ventilation is needed in homes with either electric resistance or gas cooking appliances as both types of burners produce pollutants and because cooking itself creates pollutants, odors, and excess moisture.

The need for kitchen ventilation isn’t on most people’s radar as a health issue. It should be. As we work to create healthy, low-energy homes, we must recognize that “build tight; ventilate right” includes effective kitchen (and bath) ventilation in addition to baseline, “whole-home” mechanical ventilation. Pollutants generated in a leaky home get diluted with infiltrating outdoor air. Pollutants in tight homes stay put. A tight home with ineffective kitchen ventilation and even a moderate amount of cooking is a recipe for bad IAQ and potential health impacts.

Right now, there are four main problems with US residential kitchen ventilation:

  • Many existing homes lack any kitchen ventilation.
  • Homes are being built without kitchen ventilation because it is not required in building codes.
  • Even in homes that have kitchen ventilation, few people routinely use it.
  • Even when they are used, many kitchen ventilation systems are only moderately effective.

These problems are at different scales, and have different causes and potential solutions. But they all need to be addressed together if we want to improve the efficacy of our kitchen ventilation, and to create comfortable low-energy homes that are also healthy.

Building codes and standards, design, education, and marketing, among other approaches, all must play a role in addressing these challenges. But the first step is to recognize them as problems and begin to generate the will to work together to solve them.  

To view the full report, “Addressing Kitchen Contaminants for Healthy, Low-Energy Homes”, click here. Also, look for a more detailed look at the study results in a future Home Energy Magazine issue.

Views: 339

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by Chris Stratton on April 7, 2014 at 12:43pm

Graham, great points. I'm a fan of induction. If a full induction range is infeasible, a portable single burner induction cooktop can be an affordable and versatile replacement or complement for a gas or electric resistance range.  

Comment by Graham Irwin on April 3, 2014 at 9:45am

Good idea to stop burning gas inside, induction cooktops eliminate combustion and deliver far more of the heat to the cookware, an additional benefit during cooling season.

Comment by Chris Stratton on April 2, 2014 at 10:58am

Bob, I agree. Vented to the outside is a great place to start. Next on the priority list for me would be the noise level.

Comment by Bob Blanchette on March 30, 2014 at 6:54am

The first thing that could be done is get rid of those recirculating range hoods that 90% of new homes use. Require all range hoods to be vented to the OUTSIDE.

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Twitter

Latest Activity

Paul Scheckel posted a blog post

Renewable Rant: Traditional Energy!

Why, when I open up a newsletter or market evaluation report about “traditional energy” markets, do…See More
19 hours ago
Rob Madden, Solar Home Broker's discussion was featured

Indoor Air Quality Monitors and Meters

I'm considering purchasing the AirAdvice for Homes indoor air quality monitor but it seems to have…See More
20 hours ago
Luis Hernandez's discussion was featured

ERV Configuration

Greetings everyone,     I did an energy audit on this new home that is too tight and needs…See More
20 hours ago
Kim Tanner's discussion was featured
20 hours ago
John Nicholas's discussion was featured

Slab Edge Insulation - A Side Thread to Melissa's Question

Melissa Baldridge inquired about installing slab edge insulation on a potential E-Star certified…See More
20 hours ago
Melissa Baldridge's discussion was featured

ENERGY STAR - Slab Insulation

Folks,Let's say I have a client who's building slab on grade and intending to certify E-STAR.  I'm…See More
20 hours ago
Sean Maxwell's discussion was featured

Blower Door Databases: ATTMA and Retrotec rCloud

Hi guys,We're pushing for blower door testing in the building code here in Australia and we think…See More
20 hours ago
Bob Blanchette's discussion was featured

Real World Ceiling Fan CFM

Has anybody done testing on delivered CFM of ceiling fans? Energy star has a test room where the…See More
20 hours ago

© 2016   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service