Air Clean Up

  • Is Your Roast Dinner Polluting Your Home?

Is Your Roast Dinner Polluting Your Home?

Mar 19 2019 Read 1321 Times

An alarming new collaborative study from scientists all over the globe has found that cooking a roast dinner in your home could produce more polluted air than that found on the world’s dirtiest streets. Whether it’s a regular Sunday roast or a one-off Christmas feast with all the trimmings, cooking up a storm could be as bad for your lungs as it is for your waistline.

Indeed, even making a piece of toast was found to be doubly harmful than walking outside in central London for a period of around a quarter of an hour. The news amazed the scientists who published the report and provides important food for thought when planning your next family get-together or indulgent meal.

Controlled conditions

The study was a joint effort from 20 scientists in 13 different countries and used top-of-the-range particulate sensors to detect particles of pollution up to 30 times finer than the breadth of a human hair. Such particles are especially dangerous because they can be easily inhaled and can even enter the bloodstream, potentially causing and exacerbating a wide range of cardiovascular and respiratory complaints.

In the study, the researchers cooked a traditional Christmas dinner consisting of roast turkey, bread stuffing, boiled sweet potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. During the entirety of the cooking operation, all doors and windows were kept firmly shut and no exhaust hood or extractor fan was switched on, recreating a worst-case scenario.

Better out than in

While the dangerous of outdoor air pollution are well-publicised, indoor air pollution has actually been found to be a bigger threat than its alfresco counterpart. Despite this being largely common knowledge in the scientific community, the results of the study still shocked its authors far beyond what they were expecting.

Cooking the dinner resulted in particulate matter (PM) levels of pollution reaching above 200. The UN deems any figure above 10 as harmful to human health; for context, the average concentration in central London is 15.2. In fact, even toasting bread was found to result in levels of up to 30, meaning that the kitchen can easily become more dangerous to your health than even the most polluted city street.

How to minimise your exposure

The authors stated that the most harmful pollution levels were created when food was burned or charred, and that frying fatty foods and roasting them were two of the most damaging methods of cooking. Indeed, any recipe which involves the cooking of fat is likely to result in excessive levels of contamination.

As a result, the scientists recommend that homeowners try to keep their kitchen as well ventilated as possible when cooking, by opening windows and doors and employing a quality exhaust hood which removes harmful vapours from the air completely, rather than just recirculating them. Meanwhile, a clean oven is also recommended to minimise pollution as much as possible.

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