Effective Kitchen Ventilation for Healthy Zero Net Energy Homes with Natural Gas
January 21, 2021
Energy Research and Development (500)
Natural Gas Program
Brett C. Singer, Wanyu Rengie Chan, William W. Delp, Iain S. Walker, Haoran Zhao
Past studies indicate that kitchen ventilation that minimally complies with California’s Residential Building Code is inadequate at controlling combustion pollutants from natural gas burners and particulate matter produced during cooking. Effectiveness is further limited by misperceptions that kitchen ventilation is infrequently needed. This project developed the technical basis for updating kitchen ventilation requirements to protect health in new California homes, especially in smaller homes common among low-income renters. Tasks included (1) a field study of ventilation equipment performance and indoor air quality in 23 low-income apartments at four sites; (2) analysis of range hood use related to cooking time and household parameters using data from 54 houses and 17 low-income apartments; (3) a measurement-based study to quantify performance of over-the-range microwave ovens with integrated exhaust fans; and (4) pollutant exposure simulations to inform capture efficiency standards. The field study found operational deficiencies with mechanical ventilation systems in a substantial fraction of low-income apartments that affected performance, resulting in higher exposures to pollutants generated indoors. Using gas cooking burners produced high short-term and weekly time-averaged nitrogen dioxide in apartments. Range hoods were used more frequently with cooking in houses (36 percent) than apartments (28 percent); use increased with overall cooking frequency in a home and with duration of cooktop but not oven events; actual use was correlated to, but lower than, self-reported use; and use was more frequent in houses when cooking generated any fine particulate matter (PM2.5) or when high PM2.5 resulted from cooking in apartments. Performance of over-the-range microwaves with integrated exhaust fans was similar to that of range hoods of comparable price. Simulation analysis found that performance standards need to be updated to ensure that kitchen exhaust ventilation adequately protects for substantial cooking in new California residences.