3 Indoor Air Pollutants Lurking in Your Kitchen

Your kitchen should provide a clean, healthy haven where you can store food and prepare meals without risk of contamination or other dangers. Unfortunately, in many homes, the kitchen is one of the most hazardous rooms. Everything from major appliances to everyday cleaning products can release pollutants into your air in this room. Learn more about potential threats and how you can keep them out of your kitchen.

Nitrogen Dioxide

Gas burners and any appliance’s pilot light can release nitrogen dioxide. This noxious gas is the result of gaseous combustion that occurs at high temperatures. If you have a gas stove in your home, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with potentially harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide. This same pollutant is found in vehicle exhaust and is nothing to take lightly. In a study in England, 57 percent of homes using natural gas had nitrogen dioxide concentrations that exceeded the background limit established by the World Health Organization.

Converting from a gas stove is the most effective way to minimize nitrogen dioxide in your kitchen. However, if this isn’t an option, you can cut back on this gaseous pollutant with an efficient range hood with exhaust fan. Make sure you always turn the fan on when you’re cooking.

Fine and Ultrafine Particles

Fine particles are defined as those that are under 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Ultrafine particles are less than one micrometer in diameter. These hazards are common to both gas and electric stoves as well as toasters and other heating elements in the kitchen. When the burners heat up, they volatize dust and other chemicals. These will then become airborne and condense again into ultrafine particles.

When inhaled, fine and ultrafine particles can irritate the lungs. Those that are particularly small can even infiltrate the tissues and bloodstream. Range hoods that vent to the outside can help. You can also check the filter on your HVAC system to see if it’s capable of capturing fine or ultrafine particles as they circulate through your home.


Formaldehyde is often present in an alarming number of areas in the kitchen. Cabinets made from pressed wood, plywood, particleboard, or MDF usually off-gas formaldehyde, particularly when they’re new. Many cleaning agents release formaldehyde as well. When ozone reacts with certain scenting agents common to household cleaners, it can produce this pollutant.

Formaldehyde can cause nausea, coughing, and skin and eye irritation. Some studies have even suggested a connection between formaldehyde exposure and one’s risk of cancer. You can minimize this and other VOCs in the home by opting for natural cleaning products and safe, green building materials. Installing a whole-home air purifier can help you improve the quality of your air as well, not only in your kitchen but throughout the whole house.

Keep your kitchen clean and healthy by keeping an eye out for the invisible but dangerous pollutants that may lurk here. Using the right systems and products to maintain clean kitchen air will result in healthier air that you can enjoy throughout your entire house.

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