Kitchens under insidious threat from nanosize particles

November 14th, 2008 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 14 (IANS) Your seemingy sanitised, airy, well equipped kitchen is under an insidious threat — from nanoparticles that could be as lethal as microbes in causing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. Common kitchen appliances are releasing an abundance of ultra tiny nanoparticles, vastly outnumbering the previously detected, larger-size counterparts, according to new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers.

So-called “ultrafine particles” (UFP) two to 10 nanometres (NM) across, they are emitted by motor vehicles and indoor sources and have attracted attention because of increasing evidence that they can cause respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

NIST researchers conducted a series of 150 experiments using gas and electric stoves and electric toaster ovens to determine their impacts on indoor levels of nano-sized particles, according to a NIST release.

Previous studies have been limited to measuring particles with diametres greater than 10 NM, but new technology used in these experiments allowed researchers to measure as small as two NM particles - or 10 times the size of a large atom.

This previously unexplored range of two to 10 NM contributed more than 90 percent of all the particles produced by the electric and gas stovetop burners/coils. The gas and electric ovens and the toaster oven produced most of their UFP in the 10 NM to 30 NM range.

The experiments were conducted in a three-bedroom test house at NIST that is equipped to measure ventilation rates, environmental conditions and contaminant concentrations.

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