Holiday cooking safety guide comes just in time for Thanksgiving dinner

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A Thanksgiving meal is seen in an undated file photo. (Getty Images)

DENVER — The holiday season often means a lot of time whipping up some classic recipes in the kitchen.

A new cooking safety guide from Colorado Public Interest Research Group Foundation offers tips on how to minimize unhealthy air pollution from cooking with gas in your home. Too much exposure to a gas stove can lead to an unnecessary and invisible health risk, since gas stoves can cause elevated levels of indoor pollution. 

“For many Coloradans, the kitchen is a special place during the holidays–a place for bonding, for catching up with family and friends, and for making meals that we remember and look forward to all year,” said Danny Katz, executive director of CoPIRG Foundation. “It shouldn’t be a place where we have to worry about breathing toxic pollutants from our appliances. But with gas stoves, that’s the reality. Ultimately, electric or induction cooktops are going to be the healthiest choices for Colorado families, but if you’re stuck cooking with gas this holiday season, you can take measures to protect your family.” 

Cooking with gas relies on combusting methane. Doing so for a short time can lead to unhealthy levels of gases such as nitrogen dioxide in your home that exceed the EPA safety standards for outdoor pollution.

Breathing NO2 is dangerous for everyone, but especially children. An analysis found that children living in homes with gas cooking had a 42% higher chance of experiencing current asthma symptoms and a 24% higher chance over their lifetime of being diagnosed with asthma. 

“Who knew that the pollutants from a gas stove are dangerous? Unfortunately, they are, especially to the developing lungs of children,” said Barbara Gottlieb, director of Environment & Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility. 

CoPIRG Foundation’s new guide lists those precautions, such as how to install and use proper ventilation. The guide takes families through different vent hood styles and placements, the difference between ducted and non-ducted vents, and how to calculate how many cubic feet per minute of air you need to remove from your stove and kitchen to stay safe and healthy. It also recommends purchasing a low-cost, portable induction cooktop, which can provide alternative, pollution-free burners and help minimize the amount of time you spend cooking with gas.

“Electric induction equipment is able to produce high-quality food, in a fraction of the time, without sacrificing indoor air quality,” said Chef Christopher Galarza, the founder and culinary sustainability consultant for Forward Dining Solutions. “The switch to electric induction paired with proper ventilation not only reduces the indoor temperature while cooking, but is more efficient with large meal production. This will make cooking for long periods of time more enjoyable and lessen the harmful indoor air pollutants, allowing you and your family to enjoy your holiday without the risk of negative health effects.”

Click here for the guide. 

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