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Using Exhaust Fan on a Gas Stove Cuts Pollution: Study

THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Turning on the exhaust fan above your kitchen stove and cooking on the back burners can reduce the amount of air pollution from gas stovetops and ovens, a new study says.

The study also found, however, that exhaust fans vary in their effectiveness in reducing levels of indoor air pollution from cooking with gas, which can produce pollution levels higher than those in heavily polluted outdoor air.

Exhaust fans in hoods over cooktops and downdraft systems that suck air directly from the cooking surface also vary widely in price, loudness and power consumption, concluded researchers Brett Singer and William Delp at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility in Berkeley, Calif.

Despite these differences, there is no rating system to help consumers know which product is best at removing pollutants from their home.

The study was recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers measured the performance of seven over-the-range hood designs and found that none of them performed well in all of the key functions: fan efficiency, sound levels and efficiency in capturing polluted air for exhaust, according to a journal news release.

Two products that operated quietly and removed 70 percent to 90 percent of pollutants had high fan speeds that compromised their efficiency. A third product that was best at removing pollutants was so loud it made normal conversation impossible.

The best option may not require buying a new over-the-range hood, the researchers suggested.

"Routine use of even moderately effective venting range hoods can substantially reduce in-home exposures to cooking and burner-generated air pollutants," Singer and Delp wrote. "Effectiveness can be substantially enhanced by preferential use of back versus front cooktop burners and by using higher fan settings."

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more about air quality inside homes.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Environmental Science & Technology, news release, July 18, 2012

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