ABSTRACT: The performance metrics of airflow, sound, and combustion product capture efficiency (CE) were measured for a convenience sample of 15 cooking exhaust devices, as installed in residences. Results were analyzed to quantify the impact of various device- and installation-dependent parameters on CE. Measured maximum airflows were 70% or lower than values noted on product literature for 10 of the devices. Above-the-cooktop devices with flat-bottom surfaces (no capture hood)--including exhaust fan/microwave combination appliances--were found to have much lower CE at similar flow rates, compared to devices with capture hoods. For almost all exhaust devices and especially for rear-mounted downdraft exhaust and microwaves, CE was substantially higher for back compared with front burner use. Flow rate, and the extent to which the exhaust device extends over the burners that are in use, also had a large effect on CE. A flow rate of 95 liters per second (200 cubic feet per minute) was necessary, but not sufficient, to attain capture efficiency in excess of 75% for the front burners. A-weighted sound levels in kitchens exceeded 56 dB* when operating at the highest fan setting for all 14 devices evaluated for sound performance. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Natural gas cooking burners and many cooking activities emit pollutants that can reach hazardous levels in homes. Venting range hoods and other cooking exhaust fans are thought to provide adequate protection when used. This study demonstrates that airflows of installed devices are often below advertised values and that less than half of the pollutants emitted by gas cooking burners are removed during many operational conditions. For many devices, achieving capture efficiencies that approach or exceed 75% requires operation at settings that produce prohibitive noise levels. While users can improve performance by preferentially using back burners, results suggest the need for improvements in hood designs to achieve high pollutant capture efficiencies at acceptable noise levels.
Indoor Air 11/2011; 22(3):224-34. · 2.55 Impact Factor