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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Donnelly

Range Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Kitchen range hoods are statement pieces that complete the look of a well-designed cooktop or stove, but their function is under appreciated. In a sealed house, a high-performance range hood is critical for indoor air quality.

There are two types of ventilation hoods: ducted ventilation and non-vented range hoods. A ducted ventilation system is one that leads outside and empties out into the open air in the exterior of the home. Ducted ventilation range hoods are powerful in removing CO2 and particulates from cooking to the outside which makes them a great option for improving indoor air quality effectively.

The other ventilation option is a ductless or non-vented range hood. This is a closed system that pushes kitchen air through a filter and empties it back into the kitchen. However, this means that the recirculated air stays inside the house. The most common is the combo microwave/hood (micro-hoods) are range hoods that can be vented to the outside, but most are installed as non-vented range hoods that recirculate the kitchen air. This is done to keep cost of micro-hoods at a lower price since it is significantly cheaper (hundreds vs. thousands) to install non-vented range hoods. However, micro-hoods don’t perform very well and do not improve indoor air quality. If you have a micro-hood instead of a fully engineered hood that vents outside, you are only recirculating that CO2. At high levels, a build-up of CO2 can lead to lesser brain function, feeling like you can't compute things or make decisions you should be able to, and at especially bad levels, you can get painful headaches.

The CO2 problem is made worse in kitchens that have gas stoves. It is extremely important that your home has proper ventilation for all types of cooking surfaces. Another cause that creates indoor air quality issues is the particles that are created from cooking as these particulates can affect both health as well as your respiratory system. Your home’s indoor air quality is diminished not only by cooking but also by the burners themselves. Burning gas is the worst due to the increase in CO2 levels, but electric resistance burners put a lot of ultra fine particles in the air as well. The best solution for these poisonous and toxic contaminants is to get rid of them at the source by using the range hood over the cooking surfaces.

There are many additional factors and causes that create indoor air quality issues. Compounds like VOCs from materials, furnishings, solvents, solutions, paints, and more cause respiratory issues, asthma, and can lead to cancer along with other major health issues. CO2 is what we exhale after breathing in oxygen and is harmful to the body as it affects one’s mental performance by causing a decreased ability to focus. Without proper ventilation and air handling, it's highly possible that these toxins can build up in any house. Now that many are working from home, indoor air quality is a critical component of mental health as people are very sensitive to CO2.

There have been multiple studies on the effects of CO2 on the brain. The scary part is that in my home I never would have guessed how fast this builds up. In as little as an hour, the parts-per-million can reach a level where 30% of the basic strategy of the function is gone if the windows aren't open. Could you imagine taking a pill that produced the ability to increase your brainpower by 30%? That's the opportunity you have by paying more attention to CO2.

Indoor air quality in your home is so important for your health. Kitchens dump a lot of indoor air contaminants into your home, and attacking the contaminants at the source is one of the best ways to combat them. A kitchen range hood does that by removing the harmful toxins that get into your air whenever you use your range or oven. You can decrease these harmful levels by always using your range hood. If you don’t yet have a range hood in your kitchen, we recommend getting one installed as soon as you can.

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!


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