The Downsides of Burning a Burger Patty – There Are More Than You Think


Everyone’s bound to burn food at some point, whether it’s bacon, toast or the Thanksgiving turkey. The worst part is the smell that fills the entire house or that the deliciously planned meal is now equivalent to charcoal. In an article featured in a recent issue of The New York Times, “The Kitchen as a Pollution Hazard,” we learn that those burnt morsels cause more damage than you might think.

NY Times on Kitchen Ventilation Image 1Writer Peter Andrey Smith cites the experiments of Dr. Woody Delp and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in which they used a kitchen simulator to study how cooking without ventilation effects indoor air quality. Based on the scientists’ results, here’s what you should know:

  • In homes with gas stoves, the emission levels of nitrogen dioxide are 55 to 70 percent greater than the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of clean air; the air quality in 25 percent of those homes is worse than the worst recorded smog event in London.
  • A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that the impact indoor air pollution has on our health is equal to that of car accidents and greater than that of secondhand smoke. Just think – Acrolein, or the smell of burnt food, was used in grenades in World War I as it causes irritation to the lungs and eyes.
  • Attempting to mask the odor with candles, incense and other scenting agents will only do more harm than good. Indoor combustion creates more lingering pollutants and the ozone reacts with the gases to create contamination like formaldehyde.

NY Times on Kitchen Ventilation Image 2Despite these cautions, we will all continue cooking – and burning – our food. So what can we do to help ourselves? Install an effective kitchen ventilation fan, like the BEST iQ Blower System, which removes smoke and odors up to 30 percent faster than comparable range hood ventilation systems. For the peace of mind that you’re breathing in the cleanest air possible in every room of your home, look into the Broan Make-Up Air Damper that provides synchronized operation for kitchen, bath and whole-house ventilation products.  And if you do already have ventilation and make-up air systems, make sure they meet the latest codes and regulations. And above all, use them!

“We want people to cook,” says Dr. Singer, one of the scientists at the Berkeley Lab. “The health of America will probably get better. We just want to make sure all those pollutants, vapors and moisture from cooking get vented outside.”