Target: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
Goal: Establish science-based kitchen ventilation standards to reduce the threat of indoor air pollution
Indoor air pollution from cooking poses a significant health risk to consumers, yet the government has failed to actively acknowledge this threat. We demand improved kitchen ventilation standards that more accurately reflect impacts on human health. Cooking and preparing foods with gas and electric appliances releases particulate matter, including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. Scientists at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are studying how indoor air quality affects human health and how to remove harmful pollutants from cooking.
One model estimated 55 percent to 70 percent of homes with gas stoves have nitrogen dioxide emissions that exceed the EPA’s definition of clean air. Another study revealed the long-term health impact of indoor air pollutants in the average home are equivalent to “that of car accidents, and greater than that of traditional concerns like secondhand smoke or radon.” This research is especially important in light of recent efforts to make buildings airtight to save on energy costs. Airtight buildings trap contaminants and worsen the risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals.
Current kitchen ventilation standards and metrics of performance focus on measuring energy use of appliances but not their impact on human health. The Berkeley Lab seeks to address this issue by establishing “science-based ventilation standards.” This will require altering building codes to guarantee effective tools and appliances to improve ventilation in kitchens, such as making venting range hoods and kitchen fans mandatory. Many kitchens lack these devices or people just don’t use them due to a lack of awareness about the threat of indoor air pollution.
Engineer Richard Corsi explains, “Federal policy and financing tends to focus on research outdoors,” such as air quality issues and environmental hazards, while overlooking indoor air pollution. He believes this overemphasis on outdoor pollution has resulted in a lack of regulation and awareness of indoor air quality issues, which he calls, “the most important environment in terms of human health.” Sign this petition to demand comprehensive reform to building and ventilation standards to protect consumers from indoor air pollution.
Dear EPA: Office of Radiation and Indoor Air,
In light of recent studies by the Berkeley Lab, we believe the EPA must acknowledge indoor air pollution from cooking as a major threat to human health. As the largest contributor of particulate matter, cooking releases nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide and without proper tools for ventilation, these chemicals remain indoors, posing significant health risks to consumers.
The Berkeley Lab’s findings highlight the need for science-based ventilation standards and enforcement to protect consumers from indoor air pollution and the harmful byproducts of cooking. This knowledge is instrumental in raising awareness of the hazards of indoor air pollution from cooking. The EPA must act to repair flawed ventilation standards and guarantee all kitchens are equipped with tools to help remove harmful contaminants caused by cooking such as venting range hoods and kitchen fans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Vianenkitchenventilation via Wikimedia Commons