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Best Air Purifier For a Kitchen 2021-2 health dangers 1 solution

A kitchen is usually the center of the home, a place where children grow up and often families eat together. The obvious unique characteristic of the kitchen is that it is usually the one room in the house where food is cooked. The cooking process unfortunately produces air pollution by increasing both particles and chemicals in the air. So it is natural to consider buying an air purifier for a kitchen.

As a general rule the most important pollutants in a kitchen are chemicals and fine and ultrafine particles all mainly from cooking. So an air purifier with excellent chemical and ultrafine particle removing capabilities is needed. The best air purifier for both is the iQair Multigas.

There are cheaper alternatives but none have the chemical/odor removing capacity of the iQair Multigas which is therefore the best air purifier for a kitchen. The iQair Healthpro Plus is a close second.

The effects of air pollution in kitchens are quite shocking-

Table of Contents

The Effects of Cooking on the Air-Particle Production-Helps in Narrowing the Choice of Air Purifier for a Kitchen

Different Types of Cooking

It has been calculated that cooking accounts for 10% of national human made pollution in the UK. When you consider that this 10% of human pollution is only a few feet from where we are breathing the air and that it is in an enclosed room, our kitchen, the health effect will be much greater than just a proportionate 10%. The rest of human pollution, for instance from vehicles and factories, is diluted by the atmosphere and carried away by the air. This is one of the few times that we produce pollution in a room and stay in the room breathing it in!

The most damaging forms of particle pollution for health are ultrafine and fine (PM2.5) particles. When reading the following paragraphs please bear in mind that the EPA state that a safe level of PM2.5 particles is 12 mcg/m3 or less and that WHO recommend a level of 10 mcg/m3 or below as safe. Even worse, recent research suggests that above 2 mcg/m3 mortality increases are seen. For further information please see “The 13 Health Problems From Air Pollution”.

Cooking a roast dinner can make the air quality worse than many of the world’s most polluted cities, with fine particle pollution PM 2.5 during one experiment rising to 200 mcg/m3. This is almost 16 times the EPAs safe cutoff for particle pollution and 100 times the level at which mortality rises. It is also double the average PM 2.5 level in the world’s most polluted city, Hotan in China. Also, this concentration lasted for an hour in the kitchen-so would have been in the air when people were eating their food in the kitchen/dining area.

  1. Even making toast raises the PM 2.5 levels up to 300 mcg/m³ for golden brown toast and 3000 mcg/m3 for burnt toast.
  2. One experiment in Texas found that during a full day of cooking the particle count inside rose to 30 times that outside.
  3. The California Air Resources Board conducted experiments in a test house. The found that stir frying and frying tortillas in oil on the stove top also cooking lasagne in the oven caused PM2.5 concentrations of over 1000g/m3, 12 g/m3 is felt by the EPA and 10 g/m3 according to WHO to be a safe level although recent evidence suggests that 2 g/m3 is the level to aim for. So the air pollution in the kitchen can reach 100 times major US and international bodies guidelines and 500 times the limit of safety suggested by recent studies.

Air pollution in the kitchen can reach 100 times the safe limit proposed by international bodies and 500 times the limit of safety indicated likely by recent medical studies

Microwaving causes about 1/10th of the ultrafine particles of most other methods of cooking. Also steaming and boiling creates a lower PM2.5 level, about 1/3 of that of frying, grilling and oven baking.

So certainly the kitchen is a major source of indoor air pollution, and irrespective of the air pollution outside a case can be made for every kitchen having an air cleaner/purifier to protect the cook.

Gas Versus Electric Cooking

Gas cooking also creates more ultrafine particles for instance gas ovens and rings produce about 3-10 times the level of ultrafine particles than do electric ovens or rings.

Scientific investigation of the pollution caused by cooking-16 minutes 30 seconds and 25 minutes are particularly interesting

Boiling and Steaming Leads to Fewer Airborne Particles Than High Temperature Dry Cooking

So the less oven cooking or grilling that you do the better. Boiling or steam cooking will produce far fewer particles. This is because particles are particularly produced when organic matter such as meat or vegetables are heated to temperatures in ovens, frying or grills to well above 100°C (the boiling point of water). Also particles produced during boiling or steaming will tend to be trapped in the water.

The Particles From Cooking Are Particularly Dangerous

The particles from cooking are mainly in the ultrafine particle range. So they can directly enter our brains via the olfactory nerve, the nerve in our nose that enables us to smell. They can also directly enter our bloodstream. These ultrafine particles are probably the most damaging to human health, I have written an article about them “Airborne ultrafine particles-do they accelerate aging?“.

To Remove Particles a Kitchen Air Purifier Should Have a True HEPA Filter Specified to Remove Ultrafine Particles

A true HEPA air purifier is needed to remove particulate airborne pollutants and improve indoor air quality.

Here is a list of particles that HEPA filtration will remove (from largest to smallest)-

  1. House dust mite
  2. Pet dander
  3. Pollen
  4. Mold Spores
  5. Dust-household and atmospheric
  6. Bacteria
  7. Viruses
  8. Brake dust
  9. Tire dust
  10. Vehicle exhaust particles
  11. Smoke particles both cigarette and wildfire

As you can see it is a fairly comprehensive list. However, the HEPA specification only certifies that 99.97% of particles of 0.3 um (300nm) should be removed. There is no specification regarding smaller particles, so the ultrafine particles from cooking are not specified by this standard. The airborne particles that enter the bloodstream most easily are less than 10nm in diameter.

This is the reason that it is best to look for a filter that is specified to remove particles of the smallest possible size. The filter that is best in this regard is the iQair HyperHEPA filter which is specified to filter 99.5% of particles down to 3nm.

Effects of Cooking on the Air-Chemical Production-Again Helps in Narrowing the Choice of Air Purifier for a Kitchen

As cooking raises the temperature of the food volatile organic compounds in it evaporate into the air, this is the cause of the pleasant cooking smell. One example of this are fatty acids, which may be suspended in the air for days after a meal. They may then settle on the floor or walls. As these are oxidized and degrade they produce a kitchen smell which can be an unpleasant odor.

Gas cooking creates nitrogen dioxide. This can irritate the lungs and affect T cells which are an important part of the immune system. Short-term exposure to nitrogen oxides has been linked to increased overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory causes.

Oven cleaning and oven broiling of fish also releases formaldhyde into the air.

Apart from cooking, chemicals in the kitchen may come from, new carpet, flooring or furniture. All of these can release chemicals such as formaldehyde into the room, so called “offgassing”. For instance, in one study children lived in homes with vinyl flooring had endocrine disrupting chemicals in their blood at a level that was 15 times higher than other children.Some household products, such as window sprays and paints can also release chemicals into the room.

To remove chemicals/gaseous pollutants an activated carbon filter is needed. The more activated carbon that the air comes into contact with on its way through the machine the better the removal of chemicals in the air including those causing cooking odors.

Other Ways of Mitigating Pollution in the Kitchen Apart From Using an Air Purifier

These include-

  1. Microwave, boil or steam food
  2. Use electricity not gas to cook
  3. Use extractor hood over the stove with an exhaust fan. Cook on heating elements at the back of the stove as the extractor fan is most effective for this area. Note that this will do little for particle concentrations from an oven separate from the stove.
  4. Open windows to ventilate the kitchen if possible during cooking, providing outdoor air quality is good. If ventilating with the windows open use a fan to increase airflow out of the window.
  5. Gas stoves-keep burners properly set and if buying a gas stove buy one with pilotless ignition so that you do not have a pilot light constantly burning gas.
  6. Wood stoves-if buying one then buy one that meets EPA emission guidelines.

However, although these will all reduce particles and chemicals in the air, especially microwaving, boiling or steaming food a kitchen air purifier is still needed to provide air cleaning.

The Potential Health Effects from Particle Pollution in the Kitchen/Dining Area

We know the rates of dementia are up to 40% higher in people living near roads with heavy traffic. You may think that the higher rates of dementia in women may be linked to inhaled airborne particles from cooking. However, it is thought that the higher dementia rates in women are simply due to women living longer.

You will probably have an extractor hood over the stove but this will not deal with the particle emissions from the toaster and microwave. Nor does an extractor hood deal so well with things cooked on the two front burners/rings. So an effective air purifier to lower particle pollution should probably be present in all kitchens and combined kitchen dining areas.

You could take precautionary approach and have it on all the time you are in the kitchen/dining area or you could switch on for half an hour before cooking on its highest fan setting and leave on for 2 hours after cooking.

There are only 3 manufacturers that certify their air purifiers ability to remove ultrafine particles-

UltraFine Particle Removing AbilitySpecified to remove particles down to a diameter of-
iQair air purifiers3nm
Coway-some newer models10nm
Orsani20nm
Table of size of particle removed by air purifier-smaller is better

Here is the amount of activated carbon in the carbon filters- 

Chemical Removing CapacityAmount of Activated Carbon in Filter
iQair Multigas12lb
iQair HealthPro Plus5lb
Orsani EJ1203.5lb* or 1lb
Coway 400S1.5lb
Small $120 air purifier carbon filter built into one unit with particle filter0.1lb
Table of amount of carbon in filter-the more the better

*for the granular activated carbon filter, the pleated carbon filter option has 1lb of “media”

One of the 3 best carbon filters on the market is shown below. It is from the iQair HealthPro Plus.

Best air purifier for a kitchen-Carbon filter from iQair HealthPro Plus
Carbon filter from iQair HealthPro Plus
NoiseAir Flow per decibel at highest speed keeping noise under 50dbAir Flow per decibel with air purifier on highest speed
Coway 400S6.88.2Quietest per unit air flow
Oransi EJ1206.15.6
iQair HealthPro Plus3.45.1Loudest per unit air flow
Noise (db) per unit of air flow (cfm)

With all these machines you can buy generic filters that are much cheaper than the manufacturer’s filters-but you should not buy them. This is because you have no way of being sure that they even work, let alone meet the standards for removing nano-particles that the manufacturer specifies. This is a significant issue as you are going to be staking the protection of your health on their air purification.

Can you use an air purifier for kitchen odors?

On the whole air purifiers are excellent for removing kitchen odors/smells. The more contact the air has with the activated carbon in the filter and the more carbon there is in the filter the better the kitchen odor will be removed. It is of course important to deal with the source of the odor if there is something such as a waste disposal unit causing the odor rather than just general cooking.

Air Pollution From the Kitchen Affects the Rest of the House

The California Air Resources Board in their experiments in a test house not surprisingly found that air pollution in the kitchen also affected other rooms such as the living room and even bedrooms.

The Size of the Kitchen Also Helps Influence the Choice

The air flow needed through the air purifier varies with the size of the kitchen. Each air purifier has a maximum room size that it can service which is calculated on the basis of 5 air changes per hour. An air change is when the volume of air in the room has gone through the air purifier. An air purifier delivering 5 air changes per hour to a room should reduce the particle count by 80%. This is the minimum reduction that is acceptable according to EPA guidance.

The larger the volume of your kitchen the more likely the Coway 400S is to be your best choice. If you buy an air purifier that has a greater airflow that you strictly need it will simply mean that the particle count reduction will be even better, maybe 90% rather than 80%.

So you may wish to buy an air purifier with a safety margin. All the suggested room sizes above do build in a safety margin already. This is because none of the room sizes are specified for the maximum outputs of the air purifier. This is because these settings are generally too noisy, but it does give you the option of an increased flow rate if you need it. 

You may for instance have the air purifier on its maximum setting when cooking to protect the person cooking but switch it on to the setting that just produces 50db when eating.

Tip-when cooking switch you air purifier on to its maximum setting to give you maximum protection from the particles cooking produces. Then use noise cancellation headphones. As the noise from an air purifier is constant and predictable noise cancellation headphones will remove virtually all of it.

Best Air Purifier for a Kitchen (Only up to Room Size 200 sq ft*)

iQair Multigas (supreme chemical filter specification and supreme particle filter)

The air coming out of this air purifier will be better than any other air purifier on the market. It is specified to remove 99.5% of particles greater than 0.003um, the best particle specification on the market. Its removal of chemical compounds may well be the best on the market as well, there is only one other air purifier that comes close.

No pre-filter cleaning needed, this is quite an advantage as most air purifiers which should theoretically be cleaned every 2-4 weeks.

Pros
  • Very very large carbon filters 100x larger than some cheap air purifiers
  • Specified to remove ultrafine particles down to 3nm
Cons
  • Not the noisiest air purifier but also not the quietest air purifier
  • Running costs relatively high
Best air purifier for smoke-diagram of iQair GC multigas
Diagram of iQair GC Multigas. (Some elements copyright iQair with permission)
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA specified to remove 99.8% of ultrafine particles down to a size of 0.003um
Carbon filter amount of carbon (lb)12 lb so so 100x more than some other air purifiers
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)12 months
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)29 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum) 170 cfm
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)262 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)462 sq ft

Smart ControlYes smart plug

Power74 W
Weight44 lbs
Dimensions “H x “W x D”28x 15 x 16

Annual Running Cost Electricity ($)$45
Annual Running Cost Filters ($)$285
Total Annual Running Cost ($)$330

Overall this is the best air purifier for a kitchen. The same particle and chemical removing properties also make it the top pick for an air purifier for smoke both wildfire and cigarette as explained in “Best Air Purifier For Smoke“.

All the above are approximate and assume running the air purifier for 12 hours per day on the highest setting that keeps the noise below 35db.

*Most people will not wish to have the air purifier on a setting louder than about 35db for sleeping in a bedroom-you may wish to have a quieter setting than 35db this is just a ballpark estimate for most people. On the other hand, if your room layout allows you to be much further than 6 feet from the air purifier you may find the noise this air purifier makes at top speed is alright. The calculations for room size assume that you have 8 foot ceilings and 5 air changes per hour.

Never run an air purifier on auto mode using the inbuilt sensor. These cannot detect ultrafine particles which are damaging to human health, please see this article.

Second Best Air Purifier for a Kitchen (Only up to Room Size 218 sq ft*)

iQair HealthPro Plus (second best chemical filter specification and supreme particle filter)

This air purifier is more affordable than the iQair Multigas and has a better carbon filter than the Coway 400s. It is only suitable for rooms up to 270 sq ft unless you are very tolerant of noise.

No pre-filter cleaning needed, this is quite an advantage as most air purifiers have pre-filters which should theoretically be cleaned every 2-4 weeks.

iQair Healthpro Plus
iQair HealthPro Plus. (Image copyright iQair with permission)

Advantages

Pros
  • Superb particle filtration-removes of all sizes down to the low ultrafine range-particles as small as 0.003nm
  • Large carbon filter
Cons
  • Not the noisest air purifier but not the quietest
  • Not cheap to buy or run
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA specified to remove 99.8% of ultrafine particles down to a size of 0.003um
Carbon filter amount of carbon (lb)5 lb so 40x more than some other air purifiers
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)15 months for pre filter 48 months for Hyper-HEPA filter
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)20 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum) 170 cfm
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)262 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)462 sq ft

Smart ControlYes smart plug

Power74 W
Weight35 lbs
Dimensions “H x “W x D”28x 15 x 16

Annual Running Cost Electricity ($)$45
Annual Running Cost Filters ($)$180
Total Annual Running Cost ($)$230

 There is a more extensive review of this air purifier here.

All the above are approximate and assume running the air purifier for 12 hours per day on the highest setting that keeps the noise below 35db.

*Most people will not wish to have the air purifier on a setting louder than about 35db for sleeping in a bedroom-you may wish to have a quieter setting than 35db this is just a ballpark estimate for most people. On the other hand, if your room layout allows you to be much further than 6 feet from the air purifier you may find the noise this air purifier makes at top speed is alright. The calculations for room size assume that you have 8 foot ceilings and 5 air changes per hour.

Never run an air purifier on auto mode using the inbuilt sensor. These cannot detect ultrafine particles which are damaging to human health, please see this article.

Best for Larger Kitchens/Dining Rooms Over 218 sq ft

You could buy 2 or more of the iQair machines for a room but that would be expensive and noisier than the next choice. Although no other choices have such good chemical removal.

Coway Airmega 400S (Large rooms and quiet. Average/above average chemical filtration and excellent particle filtration)

It’s special power is the ability to serve very large rooms, up to approximately 624 sq feet according to EPA guidelines (assuming ceiling height of 8 feet), at reasonable noise levels. Also specified to remove particles down to 10nm in diameter.

Best air purifier for smoke
Coway 400S published with the kind permission of Coway Airmega
Pros
  • Great particle filter not quite as highly specified as the iQair machines but 2nd best on the market. It removes ultrafine particles down to 0.01um
  • Enormous but quiet airflow-the best combination of high airflow and low noise on the market
Cons
  • Average/good carbon filter
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA specified to remove 99.8% of ultrafine particles down to a size of 0.010um
Carbon filter amount of carbon (lb)1.5 lb
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)12 months
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)20 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum)290 cfm
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)450 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)640 sq ft

Smart ControlYes WIFI

Power66 W
Weight25 lbs
Dimensions “H x “W x D”23 x 15 x 15

Annual Running Cost Electricity ($)$40
Annual Running Cost Filters ($)$120
Total Annual Running Cost ($)$160

 Also Good

Coway AP-1512 HHS (cheaper but lower air flow and noisier than the Coway 400s)

Careful! this is the newer version of the Coway AP-1512 so look for the “S” on the end of the code number. It is not only smart but also uses different upgraded filters.

Pros
  • Cheapest air purifier certified to reduce ultrafine particles
Cons
  • Only powerful enough for smaller rooms
  • Noise per unit of airflow twice that of the Coway 400S
Coway Airmega AP 1512HHS Nursery B 035 stitch 1024x1024@2x
Coway AP-1512 HHS published with the kind permission of Coway Airmega
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA specified to remove 99.8% of ultrafine particles down to a size of 0.010um
Carbon filter amount of carbon (lb)0.75 lb
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)12 months
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)12 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum)139 cfm
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)214 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)370 sq ft

Smart ControlYes WIFI

Power80 W
Weight12 lbs
Dimensions “H x “W x D”17 x 18 x 10

Annual Running Cost Electricity ($)$50
Annual Running Cost Filters ($)$70
Total Annual Running Cost ($)$120

All the above are approximate and assume running the air purifier for 12 hours per day on the highest setting that keeps the noise below 35db.

*Most people will not wish to have the air purifier on a setting louder than about 35db for sleeping in a bedroom-you may wish to have a quieter setting than 35db this is just a ballpark estimate for most people. On the other hand, if your room layout allows you to be much further than 6 feet from the air purifier you may find the noise this air purifier makes at top speed is alright. The calculations for room size assume that you have 8 foot ceilings and 5 air changes per hour.

Never run an air purifier on auto mode using the inbuilt sensor. These cannot detect ultrafine particles which are damaging to human health, please see this article.

Oransi EJ 120 

Specified to remove ultrafine particles larger than 20nm in diameter

Very quiet on one air flow setting below the maximum 

Pros
  • Particle filter specified to remove ultrafine particles larger than 20nm in diameter
  • Very quiet on one air flow setting below the maximum
Cons
  • Several hundred dollars more expensive than the Coway 400s and has a slightly less highly specified filter
  • Less capable at air purification in larger rooms at an acceptable noise level
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA specified to remove 99.8% of ultrafine particles down to a size of 0.010um
Carbon filter amount of carbon (lb)2 Types- 3.5 lb Granular Carbon Filter 1lb Material Filter
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)24 months
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)16-24 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum)200 cfm
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)310 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)510 sq ft

Smart ControlYes via a smart plug (according to Oransi customer services)

Power52 W
Weight17 lbs
Dimensions “H x “W x D”17 x 19 x 10

Annual Running Cost Electricity ($)$30
Annual Running Cost Filters ($)$100
Total Annual Running Cost ($)$130

More Cost Effective Kitchen Air Purifier-Winix AM90

Winix AM90

This is the replacement for the Winix 5500 and has the advantage of smart WIFI control.

Pros
  • Will cover rooms of up to 360 sq ft if you are slightly more noise tolerant than average (otherwise up to 194 sq ft). So can be cheap per sq ft depending on your noise tolerance and room size, if your room is large and the air purifier at the other end you will not hear so much noise.
  • WIFI control-very important for mold as explained above
  • Running costs low $70 per year
Cons
  • If you are not slightly more noise tolerant than average the Levoit 200s is half the price but can only serve rooms up to 183 sq ft
best air purifer for mold Winix AM90
Filters
HEPA filterHEPA 13 filter
Carbon filter amount of carbonSmall amount of carbon incorporated into main filter 0.1 lb
Filter Change HEPA (Particles)12 months
Filter Change Carbon (Chemicals)3 months
Airflow
CADR at =<50db (CADR on Maximum)126 cfm (234 cfm)
Maximum Room Size (Noise less than 50db*)194 sq ft
Maximum Room Size (On noisiest setting)360 sq ft

Smart ControlSmart Phone App

Power65 W
Weight15.8 lb
Dimensions “H x “W x D”23.5 x 8.7 x 15.1 inches

Annual Running Cost Electricity$40
Annual Running Cost Filters$80
Total Annual Running Cost$120

Conclusion

So to a Martian a kitchen is a place where humans to prepare food, put themselves into an enclosed space and create an enormous amount of air pollution which they breathe in for an hour or two whilst it enters their bloodstreams and brains. So to a Martian it would be obvious to have an air purifier in the kitchen to remove the pollution caused by cooking.

So because of the nature of the air pollution caused by cooking the best air purifier for a kitchen is the iQair MultiGas with the iQair HealthPro Plus being a close second.

If you have a large kitchen then you will need the Coway 400S, this is by far the best air purifier for large spaces. If you are on a budget the Winix AM90 is a great choice although much noisier for the same room coverage than the Coway 400S.

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