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Cook with your windows open

THE SCIENCE

For a new study, researchers tested whether common chores affected the air quality in a 1,200-square-foot home. They found that everyday tasks like cooking can make the air just as polluted as that of a major city. Even boiling water has a negative impact.

EXPERT INSIGHT

Any time harmful contaminants enter the natural environment, it’s considered pollution. This is even true of the tiny particles (like oil droplets from pan-frying or carbon monoxide from gas stoves) that become airborne when you cook, says Delphine Farmer, Ph.D., a principal investigator in the study and an associate professor of chemistry at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The pollution migrates from the kitchen into the rest of your home. That’s cause for concern: Separate research shows exposure to these particles can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems in healthy people, Farmer says. Long cooking times and high temperatures make the effects worse.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Turn on the ventilation hood or open your kitchen windows when you cook. Both habits allow the pollutants to escape, keeping the air inside your home clean.