The Threat of Cooking Fumes for Catering Workers

  • Last Modify Date:2017-03-30

The Threat of Cooking Fumes for Catering Workers

News From:Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
Date:2008-06-20

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a government unit that operates under the Council of Labor Affairs, carried out health screening on 707 catering-industry workers from the Taipei and Taoyuan areas in 2006 and found that the oxidative damage index (the concentration of malon dialdehyde, or MDA, in the urine) for workers with a high exposure to cooking fumes was substantially greater than that of workers who were not exposed, and that the oxidative damage and fume exposure indexes showed a positive correlation. This indicates that exposure to cooking fumes can cause oxidative damage. Chest X-rays of highly exposed female catering workers who were non-smokers showed a 13.0% abnormality, far higher than the unexposed group at 5.6%. To help address this problem, IOSH carried out research aimed at improving the function of embracing air curtain devices. The results of the research show that the Smoke Guider developed by IOSH can effectively reduce the threat of cooking-fume exposure for catering workers.

The hazardous substances in cooking fumes include suspended particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, and nitro-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Exposure to cooking fumes can lead not only to respiratory diseases, lung cancer, gene toxicity, and other health problems, but also to the threat of cardiovascular disease. According to the results of a study of the short-term effects of air pollution on health, sponsored by American and European government environmental-protection agencies and involving 43 million residents of 29 European cities, each increase of 10 μg/m3 in daily average exposure to suspended particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter boosts the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 0.69%. A study of the effects on health of long-term exposure to air pollution, conducted by the American Cancer Society, show that each increase of 10 μg/m3 in annual average exposure to suspended particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter heightens the risk of death from heart and lung disease by 6%. These figures point up the importance of reducing the exposure of catering workers to cooking fumes.

In 2006, IOSH carried out research on the installation of embracing air curtain devices on range hoods in six Chinese-cuisine restaurants, and conducted a before-and-after study of the concentration of suspended particulate matter and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the catering workplace. The results showed that before installation of the IOSH-developed Smoke Guider embracing air curtain device in the six restaurants, average concentrations of suspended particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter and less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter were 161.9 and 106.0 g/m3, respectively, both substantially higher than the amounts recommended by the Environmental Protection Administration (150 and 100 g/m3). After installation of the Smoke Guider air curtain device, the respective concentrations dropped to just 46.8 and 39.0 g/m3,  far better than the EPA recommendation.

Installation of the Smoke Guider in the kitchens of the six restaurants cut the mean of the summed concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the kitchen atmosphere from 16.3 ng/m3 to just 4.7 ng/m3, a reduction of 70.9%. Since suspended particulate matter can cause cardiovascular disease and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the air can lead to respiratory disease and lung cancer, the installation of embracing air curtain devices in restaurant kitchens can obviously make significant contributions to the good health of catering workers.

  • News From:ILOSH
  • Publish Date:2008-06-20
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