PastedGraphic-1Range hoods are usually not given much thought. However, with the holiday season and an influx of cooking upon us (not to mention pollution!), the fumes from the stove can be dangerous and these hoods are crucial for getting the noxious gas out of your home. The most effective hoods can be pricey, but they’re worth it to keep your home safe.

Gas stoves release gases that are pollutants and many homes with gas stoves are filled with more than the normal amount of nitrogen dioxide. Since homes are not monitored for these fumes often, it may not be obvious. Even electric stoves can create smog by cooking on them, which creates irritants and fine particle pollution. These pollutants can cause lung and heart problems long-term.

New homes are built to not let air in or out, in an effort to be more energy efficient, but this also means that it is harder for dangerous fumes to escape. For this reason, it is very important to use an effective range hood with vents outside.

Not all range hoods are created equal, so it can be challenging to determine whether your range hood is effective. There have not been any standardized tests put into place that would let manufacturers label hoods willingly. There are currently no government agencies that look over indoor air pollution, although there are strict rules for appliances, such as furnaces and water heaters. Currently, a testing board is reviewing studies, so range hoods could have labels in the near future.

What to Look For

It is important to find a hood that has “air flow” with powerful fans. Some hoods can be only 15 percent effective because of their fans. It is also crucial to find a hood that covers the whole stovetop. Fans should move the air 200 cubic feet of air per minute, which is the standard set by the Home Ventilating Institute, and have a hollow space under the hood for gathering fumes. For a quieter fan, there are hoods with noise ratings of three sones or less.

There are also a few things you can do when cooking at home to decrease air pollutants. Always have your fan on and always on the highest setting. Hoods draw in the most pollutants on the back burners, so you can help the indoor air quality by cooking on pots and pans in these areas. It is also helpful to clean the grease traps regularly. If you do not have a range hood, you can get rid of pollutants by keeping the windows open while cooking.

Although you may spend more on an effective range hood, it could be a life-saving investment, especially for those who like to cook. As the mantra for green building goes, “Build tight, ventilate right” and be sure to keep your home free of smog.