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Healthy Home

Advice for an Allergy-Friendly, Non-Toxic Kitchen Renovation

Appliances

For the most part, today’s appliances aren’t a concern for people with allergies and asthma; however, emissions from gas stoves can trigger asthma in adults and kids with sensitivities.

As a result, a high-quality exhaust fan over the stove can make a big difference – and can also help with the overall ventilation of the home. The key is buying the right one and installing it properly.

Skip recirculating fans, which take the air from the kitchen, filter it, then spit it back into the same room. Instead get one that exhausts to the outside. Choose a fan that’s powerful enough to draw the air out; room size and length of the duct work both play a role. And the fan must be installed at the correct height over the stove. “If your house still smells like cooking when the fan has been on,” says Freed, “then the fan is too far away or not big enough.”

It’s also important to remember that the air being sucked out needs to be replaced, and could be drawing in problems such as smoke or mold from another part of the home. If possible, says Freed, crack open a nearby window so the fan draws fresh air from outside.

The Big Finish

These days, Earth-minded items from bamboo cabinets to no-VOC paints are in vogue, but renovators often pay less attention to the caulking, sealants and other adhesives used in the finishing stages of a kitchen – and for people with asthma and allergies, they can be some of the biggest troublemakers.

“Most people focus on the things that are visible like paints, but in my mind, all of the caulking, sealing and adhesives should be zero-VOC, not just low-VOC,” says Freed.

So finally, your new kitchen is in. But before you fire up the stove and uncork the vino, flush out your home by opening a few windows, turning your thermostat to “fan only” and letting it run for several days, then replacing the air system’s filter. This will remove any residual construction dusts from the system, and keep you breathing easily – not only in your fabulous new kitchen, but all around your home.

Got a healthy home issue? Write editor@allergicliving.com

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.