The simple act of cooking a comforting Sunday roast can drive indoor air pollution to toxic levels, a new study has found.
Roasting foods like meat and vegetables, and cooking with a gas hob, releases a surge of fine particles that could make the air inside homes dirtier than that of a polluted city like India’s capital of Delhi.
Harmful PM2.5 particulates occur when fine soot and tiny organic particles from gas flames, vegetables, oils and fat combine.
The peak indoor pollution lasts for about an hour, according to researchers at the University of Colorado. And even burning a piece of toast or boiling meat or vegetables pushes up these particulates in the air.
Dr Marina Vance, who led the research at the University of Colorado in the US explained: “It’s a known fact that cooking emits particles and other air pollutants, but the sheer levels we were able to reach in this study were surprising.”
While these effects of cooking are short-lived, scientists are concerned about the overall health impact of our cooking habits.
But Dr Vance suggests that taking precautions like opening windows and using extractor hoods to ventilate the kitchen while cooking will help. Cooking on an electric stove instead of open gas flames could also cut pollution, she explained.
Dr Vance presented her results at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC.