Indoor Air Quality: Kitchen

by J on November 29, 2010

The air quality inside our homes has become a cause for concern in America, especially with the rise of chemical use in the home. Each room in the home can have certain concerns. Today’s post will focus on the kitchen and what we can do to make sure this room is not contributing to poor air quality in the whole house.

According to the EPA, the kitchen has three areas of concern:  pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide.


Homeowners often worry about bugs and rodents being attracted to this room of the home because of the food that is always present. While rodents, termites, insects and other pests are an unhealthy nuisance in the kitchen, you must take care so that you don’t create a worse problem by liberally using dangerous pesticides. These pesticides can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat; damage the central nervous system and kidneys; and increase the risk of cancer. What you may not realize is that disinfectants are also classified as a pesticide. The problem with pesticides is that they spread easily and they often build up on surfaces. They easily contribute to poor home air quality.

It’s best to try to combat pest problems with natural means rather than chemical means whenever possible. Do not leave food sitting out. Use mousetraps rather than chemicals. The University of Minnesota Extension has some suggestions on environmentally friendly methods of pest control that may help you prevent a problem from getting started.


Vocs are released from common household cleaners when they are used and stored. They are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, and they may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Thousands of products emit these gases including cleaners, paints, hobby materials, glues, permanent markers and office equipment, just to name a few. In the kitchen, these products are often stored under your kitchen sink or in other cabinets.  Try to purchase cleaners that are VOC free. Many companies are becoming aware of the problem now and are starting to make VOC-free products. Your local health food store is a good place to start looking to find safer products.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is hard to detect until it is too late because it is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. In high levels, it will kill you with its toxic fumes. In low levels, it causes symptoms that mimic the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The symptoms will vary from person to person, with younger, smaller people becoming ill first. It’s important to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home if you have any type of gas appliances. In the kitchen, to maintain good indoor air quality, make sure that all gas appliances are vented outside and that the appliances are properly installed, used and maintained.

Take the time to make sure your kitchen is not contributing to poor indoor air quality in your home. This is one home improvement you can’t afford not to do. You and your family will be safer and healthier for it.

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