NY Times "The Kitchen as a Pollution Hazard"
By PETER ANDREY SMITH
By midmorning, the smell of hot peanut oil dissipated and inside the tightly sealed laboratory known as Building 51F, a pink hamburger sizzled in a pan over a raging gas flame. Overhead, fans whirred, whisking caustic smoke up through a metallic esophagus of ductwork.
Woody Delp, 49, a longhaired engineer in glasses , the Willie Nelson of HVAC, supervised the green bean and hamburger experiments. He sat at a computer inside a kitchen simulator, rows upon rows of numeric data appearing on his screen, ticking off the constituents of the plume sucked up the flue. A seared hamburger patty, as he sees it, is just a reliable source for indoor pollution.
"I can claim Alice Waters influenced the recipe," he said. "It's all fresh and local."
But Dr. Delp and his colleagues aren't really interested in testing recipes. They are scientists at the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the morning's experiment concerned another kitchen conundrum, a fight against physics: how to remove harmful contaminants caused by cooking.
Simply put, cooking is an act of controlled combustion - you set oil, fat, and carbohydrates on fire. As a health hazard, incinerating hamburgers and green beans may pale in comparison with lighting wood or coal fires indoors, the leading environmental cause of death and disability around the world. Yet frying, grilling or toasting foods with gas and electric appliances creates particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. (Acrolein, which most cooks recognize as the smell of burnt fats or oils, was used in grenades in World War I because it causes irritation to the lungs and eyes.)
Emissions of nitrogen dioxide in homes with gas stoves exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's definition of clean air in an estimated 55 percent to 70 percent of those homes, according to one model; a quarter of them have air quality worse than the worst recorded smog (nitrogen dioxide) event in London. Cooking represents one of the single largest contributors, generating particulate matter (formally known as PM2.5) at concentrations four times greater than major haze events in Beijing.
"Because we�re used to the smell, we don't think of it as an issue," said Jennifer M. Logue, 32, an air quality engineer at the Berkeley Lab. "When you live in a small building, you cook a lot and don't use your range hood, which may not be very effective anyway, then you�re probably going to have a problem with pollutants from cooking."
Recently Dr. Logue estimated the long-term health effects expected from hundreds of chemicals found in average homes. Her 2012 study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, used a common epidemiological metric known as disability-adjusted life-year to show that the population-wide health impact of indoor pollutants is on a par with that of car accidents, and greater than that of traditional concerns like secondhand smoke or radon.
Thanks to sharonite in the Kitchen Forum for pointing out article. Rest of article in link.
Here is a link that might be useful: NYT