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Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Cooking is done with a variety of heat sources such as gas, wood, and electricity. In India, the most common form of cooking is done by direct combustion of fuels, either cooking with wood or charcoal; or cooking with LPG. These heat sources can cause indoor air pollution and cooking using biomass, LPG generates more pollutants than electric cooking.

Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other hazardous chemicals released by natural gas and propane burners can be toxic to people and pets. Cooking using a wood stove or fireplace can cause a lot of indoor air pollution because of the wood smoke. The major Combustion gases are carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide

What is the major source of indoor air pollution due to cooking?

· Firewood,

· LPG,

· Cow dung,

· Kerosene,

· Coal,

· Lignite,

· Electricity,

· Biogas, and

· Bio aerosols


What are the air pollutants released during cooking?

Cooking can be a significant source of indoor air pollution. Depending on the type of cooking, fuel used, and ventilation in the kitchen, a variety of air pollutants can be released into the indoor air. Here are some of the common air pollutants associated with cooking:

  1. Particulate matter (PM): When food is cooked, small particles can be released into the air, which can be inhaled and cause respiratory problems. This is particularly a concern with high-temperature cooking methods, such as frying and grilling.

  2. Carbon monoxide (CO): CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can be produced when fuel is burned. This gas is toxic and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and in extreme cases, death.

  3. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): NO2 is a gas that is produced when fuel is burned at high temperatures, such as in gas stoves. Exposure to NO2 can cause respiratory problems, including asthma.

  4. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): These are chemicals that can be released into the air when cooking with certain fuels, such as natural gas, propane, and kerosene. VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and can also cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

  5. Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde can be released into the air when cooking with certain types of fuels or using certain types of cooking utensils, such as non-stick pans. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and can also cause respiratory problems.

Level of indoor air pollutants during cooking:

· Particular matter: 500 to 2,000 mg/m3.

· The level of carbon monoxide while cooking using dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG is 144, 156, 94, 108, and 14 mg/m3.

· The range of Hydrocarbons when cooking with dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG is 3.56, 2.01, 0.55, 0.23, and 0.13 mg/m3.

· The range of Formaldehyde while cooking with dung, wood, coal, kerosene, and LPG is 670, 652, 109, 112, and 68 mg/m3.

What are the impacts of indoor air pollution due to cooking?

Exposure to air pollutants while cooking can cause variety of health issues, including nose and throat discomfort, headaches, exhaustion, and nausea. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde may cause some types of cancer. The impacts of indoor air pollution are most detrimental to young children, asthmatics, and persons with heart or lung illness.

Children living in homes with gas stoves have a 42 percent increased risk of experiencing asthma symptoms (current asthma), a 24 percent increased risk of (lifetime asthma), and an overall 32 percent increased risk of both current and lifetime asthma, according to a meta-analysis.

When people cook in kitchens with limited ventilation, the air they breathe might be harmful. A properly placed, high-efficiency range hood above your stove is the finest method to ventilate your kitchen.

Let’s see how we can improve the kitchen air quality:

To reduce exposure to air pollutants during cooking, it is important to ensure adequate ventilation in the kitchen, such as using a range hood or opening windows. Additionally, using clean-burning fuels, such as natural gas or propane, can help reduce air pollutant emissions. It is also important to avoid using non-stick cookware that contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which can release harmful chemicals when heated.


1. California Air Resource Board, VOX, EPA, and NCBI

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