The highest levels of all compounds, including ultrafine particles that more easily penetrate the lungs, were produced while frying with gas.
However, even the higher levels of particles found in the study were below accepted occupational safety thresholds. But the researchers noted that cooking fumes contain various other harmful components for which there is as yet no clear safety threshold and that gas cooking seems to increase exposure to these components.
Regardless of the level of risk, cooks should follow certain "safe cooking" guidelines, said Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, an attending physician in the division of gastroenterology and liver diseases at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.
That means don't barbeque or char meat, don't overheat the oil because that increases the level of toxins in the food, do use a drip pan so that grilling fat doesn't touch the fire, make sure the exhaust fan is on and microwave meat before it's grilled.
"In their homes, people can make sure that they have a powerful exhaust fan, preferably one that is vented directly to the outside and does not have a charcoal filter, Sjaastad emphasized. "Also, the fan must be run on the highest level of capacity to be efficient. Suction is improved if the fan is placed between two walls, between two cupboards or up to a corner. It is also very important to let the fan run for 15 minutes after you're done cooking. In addition, people may reduce the amount of pan frying, for instance, by frying their steak shortly in the pan at first, and then bake it in the oven until it is finished."
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has more on PAHs.
SOURCES: Lisa Ganjhu, D.O., attending physician, division of gastroenterology and live
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