Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
Did You Know? Cooking Can Actually Harm Indoor Air Quality!
Cooking is more than just a means of feeding your family. It is a form of tradition, creativity, excellence and health! But while focusing on cooking a nourishing meal, you may not realize how cooking affects your indoor air quality.
Did you know that certain cooking appliances and activities emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particulate matter and hazardous gases? Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of these emissions can cause potential health effects too! Effects include respiratory difficulties, headaches, flu-like symptoms...etc.
Many cooking activities also produce excessive water vapour - contributing to indoor humidity levels.
In this article, our experts explore how cooking affects indoor air quality. We also give you a few pointers on improving your kitchen air quality as you cook!
What Pollutants and Pollutant Sources Are In The Kitchen?
According to a study done by Health Canada, Canadians spend about 90% of their time indoors. They work, sleep, clean, do their laundry, cook….etc. all from the comfort of their home. That’s why our CleanAir Solutions team provides you with all the knowledge and advice we can about improving indoor air quality. Because we know how crucial it is to your health. And to the health of your family!
In our last blog, we explored all the different ways laundry affects your indoor air quality. We learned how certain practices like cleaning your dryer vent can reduce the risk of poor ventilation and carbon monoxide emissions. We also learned how some everyday laundry products release harmful VOC concentrations. We even touched on how laundry plays a role in the humidity of our homes.
In this post, we will expand on that research - moving from the laundry room to the kitchen!
What are some of the pollutants in our kitchens? Are there ways we can mitigate or prevent them? Where do they come from in the first place?
Keep reading to find out!
What Types Of Cooking Activities Produce Pollutants?
- And burning!
Most, if not all, cooking activities produce some sort of by-product.
In fact, whether you use a gas or an electric stove, the simple act of cooking produces particulate matter (PM) - also called particle pollution. And even these tiny airborne food, oil or fat particles can cause potential harm to your health.
We explore some of the cooking activities that produce these pollutants in more detail below:
When someone says deep-fried food, our minds instantly go to yummy treats like deep-fried chicken, doughnuts and potato chips. Not the potential health risks associated with this cooking activity, like eye irritation and respiratory difficulty.
We are here to change that! Why? Because everyone should be aware of the potential dangers in their home environment. Only then can we make an informed decision for our health. And the health of our family.
Deep frying involves lots of oil or fat and extremely high temperatures. The concept is to submerge ingredients (i.e. doughnuts) deep into the hot fat - resulting in a crisp crust and complex flavours.
The downside to deep frying in your kitchen is the high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PM and other unhealthy air pollutants.
How do you prefer your toast? Golden brown or charred?
Scientists say that, when toasting bread, you should aim for a golden finish. And not just for taste preference!
A darker discolouration can result in higher PM concentrations, brown carbon and VOC emissions.
In fact, that morning bread-in-the-toaster smell is actually caused by the emission of these compounds in your indoor air.
Barbeque season is one of our favourite times of the year. And we bet the same is true for most Canadians!
But did you know grilling can harm your indoor air as well?
Charcoal is actually the worst pollutant source in regards to grilling. It can release,
- Ash and
According to the EPA, smoking woods (i.e. hickory) can release:
Even charcoal lighter fluid, natural gas and propane grills release harmful pollutants.
In fact, all grilling methods cause emissions, whether you choose to barbeque, grill or smoke.
But do you have to worry about these pollutants if grilling outdoors? Absolutely you do.
You especially have to if you use screen doors or open windows as ventilation for your home. Smoke can pollute indoor air as it drifts from your barbeque and enters your home through open windows.
So what are some of the health effects associated with these cooking-related pollutants?
Potential Health Effects Of Cooking-Related Pollutants
- Shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms
- Asthma Symptoms
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
How do we mitigate indoor air pollution from cooking and prevent these health effects? We listed a few different ways below!
How To Improve Indoor Air Quality In The Kitchen
Use a Range Hood
According to a Health Canada study, using a range hood can reduce PM, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and water vapour.
Instead of spreading throughout your kitchen and home, the range hood vents these pollutants outdoors. Removing them from the indoor air you breathe in.
Pro Tip: set your exhaust fan on a high setting (300 cubic feet/minute) while cooking. This will help reduce your exposure to these pollutants by 80% more than if you set it to a slower speed.
Put It On The Back Burner
Overhanging oven hoods usually only cover the two back burners on your stovetop. This means these two burners offer the most ventilation - reducing your exposure to harmful pollutants.
Pro Tip: we recommend focusing your cooking activities on these two back burners.
Switch To An Electric Stove
Natural gas and propane stoves can generate many harmful pollutants, including:
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
- Carbon Dioxide
And while electric stoves can potentially emit particulate matter, they do not produce nearly as much air pollution as gas stoves.
Pro Tip: switch to an electric stove to help reduce the production of these harmful gases in your home.
Clean Your Oven Properly
How often do you clean your oven? Do you clean it safely?
Whether you have an electric or gas oven, cleaning it is 100% necessary. But be mindful of the self-cleaning feature!
Although this is a convenient component, it can potentially be dangerous too! This self-cleaning process can emit high concentrations of airborne pollutants, including:
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
Pro Tip: ensure your range hood ventilation is on a high setting when using the self-cleaning feature on your oven.
Ventilation is key to good indoor air quality. It can prevent mould growth, remove harmful substances and mitigate VOC concentrations.
And while a range hood is a great way to ventilate your home as you cook, it may not be enough! Other ventilation methods can help too.
Try opening windows in your kitchen or installing a whole-house ventilator!
Learn How To Barbeque Safely
Understanding and practising grilling safety is a must. And thankfully, the National Fire Protection Association has offered many barbeque safety tips relating to potential fire hazards in charcoal and propane grills.
But as you read earlier, barbeques can pose potentially serious indoor air quality issues too. Smoke can easily drift from your barbeque to your home through an open window, screen or door.
To help prevent smoke from getting into your indoor air, remember to:
Move the BBQ to a safe location and angle it away from your home.
Close all windows and doors to your home before you light the grill.
Learn More About Indoor Air Quality From Our Shipton’s Clean Air Solutions Technicians!
At Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions, we give you the tools and tips you need to stay safe and healthy at home - all summer long!
Do you have questions about your indoor air quality? Let us know!
6 Laundry Hacks You Need To Know For Better Indoor Air Quality
Is cleaning your laundry having an adverse effect on your indoor air quality?
When most of us think of laundry day, we think of clean, fresh-smelling clothing. After all, that’s what laundry day is all about, right? Freshening things up?
In theory, yes.
But in reality, cleaning your laundry could actually hamper the quality of your indoor air.
Doing laundry in your home can cause mould growth, high humidity, dust mites, toxic chemicals and more! Effects which are far from beneficial for your indoor air quality and potentially dangerous for your health.
So before you throw another load in the dryer or wash machine, read through these 9 laundry hacks for better indoor air quality. They can help keep your indoor air clean and fresh while also lowering your energy bills!
1. Clean Your Dryer Vent
Keeping your dryer vent clear and clean is vital for three reasons.
First, a buildup of dryer lint can become a fire hazard. The hot air and static in your dryer can ignite a spark with the excess lint found in your dryer vent.
Secondly, dryer lint can also hinder the proper ventilation of gas-powered dryers. This could then release carbon monoxide into your indoor air. - a colourless, odourless and toxic gas that is both flammable and poisonous.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
- Chest Pain
- Upset Stomach
If inhaled, large amounts of carbon monoxide can also cause fainting or death!
Thirdly, as lint accumulates in the liner of your dryer ducts, airflow becomes restricted. This restriction causes your dryer to consume more energy - lowering its efficiency and raising your energy bills.
Improve your dryer’s efficiency, minimize the risk of fires and keep your indoor air safe with our dryer vent cleaning services!
2. Try Using 100% Natural Laundry Detergents and Fabric Softeners
What laundry detergent and fabric softener brand do you use and why?
Shopping for a “fresh” new laundry scent is exciting. We look for the perfect fragrance, the best reviews and the most affordable prices - all in search of a solution that suits our preferences and budget.
However, the factors that guide this decision-making process may have to change.
In light of a recent study, some fragranced laundry products can be harmful to our indoor air quality. These products can emit concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Studies have also found that many laundry detergents and fabric softeners contain toxic chemicals that release harmful fumes. These fumes can then enter your body through inhalation or skin absorption, causing serious health effects.
Our indoor air quality experts recommend using 100% natural laundry products to lessen the risk of this toxic exposure.
3. Prevent Mildew and Mould Growth In Your Washing Machine.
When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine? If you can’t remember, or maybe you never have, there might be an unpleasant surprise hidden inside for you.
Do you recall our recent article on mould, weird smells and high humidity in your basement? If so, you might remember that heat and warmth creates the perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew. And if you've smelt a musty odour on your supposedly “fresh” laundry recently, you've probably seen the first sign of it!
But don’t worry! Although your washing machine may be the perfect home for mould, this bacterial growth isn't inevitable. In fact, there are a couple of easy ways for you to help prevent mould growth from happening.
First, always remember to keep the lid of your washing machine open after you run it. This will help dry it out and release some heat from inside.
Second, remove damp laundry immediately after the cycle is complete. Although it’s common for us to throw a load of laundry in and forget it for an entire day, this can increase the chances of mould growth in your machine.
4. Use a Dehumidifier
Speaking of hot and damp environments…did you know that daily housekeeping tasks like laundry can increase the humidity in your home?
Your laundry room is actually an especially hot and humid area of your home. With both machines running, clothes air drying and a pile of sweaty clothes piling up in the corner, you’re practically inviting mould growth!
To reduce the humidity in your laundry room, we recommend:
a) Cleaning your laundry room to keep it as dry as possible, and
b) Installing a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.
5. Use a Clothesline.
Many of us air dry our clothes indoors to save money on energy and preserve the shape and quality of fabrics. But did you know that indoor air drying can dramatically increase your indoor humidity levels?
Leaving your laundry to dry indoors creates that perfect humid environment for mould growth and dust mites. It also means your dehumidifier has to work even harder to remove this excess moisture.
To save energy and maintain a healthy humidity level in your home, we recommend using a clothesline as much as possible.
Plus - your clothes will actually smell fresher when dried in the fresh outdoor air!
6. Ventilate Your Laundry Room.
Circulating the air in your laundry room is key to managing moisture and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Ventilation also introduces fresh air into your laundry room while removing that unpleasant, stale, muggy air. Because nobody wants to walk into a sauna every time they fold laundry.
Recommended Ventilation Equipment:
- Dryer Vents
- Energy Recovery Ventilation
- Exhaust Fans
- Heat Recovery Ventilation
Freshen Up Your Laundry Room With Indoor Air Quality Products by Shipton’s CleanAir Solutions!
Is laundry day hampering the quality of your indoor air? Although laundry is nobody’s favourite chore, you should never have to worry about it harming your indoor air quality. By following the above recommendations, you can help keep your indoor air clean and safe!
P.S. Don't forget to book your professional dryer vent cleaning while you’re at it!