Cooking Particulate Matter: A Systematic Review on Nanoparticle Exposure in the Indoor Cooking Environment

Joanna Izabela Lachowicz, Simone Milia, Mariusz Jaremko, Enrico Oddone, Emanuele Cannizzaro, Luigi Cirrincione, Ginevra Malta, Marcello Campagna, Luigi Isaia Lecca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Cooking and fuel combustion in the indoor environment are major sources of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), which is an excellent carrier of potentially harmful absorbed inorganic and organic compounds. Chronic exposure to RSPM can lead to acute pulmonary illness, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and lung cancer in people involved in cooking. Despite this, questions remain about the harmfulness of different particulate matter (PM) sources generated during cooking, and the factors influencing PM physico-chemical properties. The most reliable methods for sampling and analyzing cooking emissions remain only partially understood. Objectives: This review aims to comprehensively assess the risks of PM generated during cooking, considering the main sources of PM, PM chemical composition, and strategies for PM physico-chemical analysis. We present the first systematic analysis of PM sources and chemical composition related to cooking. We highlight significant differences between studies using different experimental conditions, with a lack of a standard methodology. Methods: Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement rules and the Patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome (PICO) strategy for scientific research, three different scientific databases (PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) were screened to find scientific articles that measure, collect, and analyze the chemical composition of nanometer- and micrometer-sized PM generated during cooking activities under different conditions. Data are summarized to assess risk, evaluating the main sources and factors influencing PM generation, their chemical composition, and how they have been collected and analyzed in changing experimental conditions. Results: From 2474 search results, there were 55 studies that met our criteria. Overall, the main variable sources of PM in cooking activities relate to the stove and fuel type. The concentration and chemical–physical properties of PM are also strongly influenced by the food and food additive type, food processing type, cooking duration, temperature, and utensils. The most important factor influencing indoor PM concentration is ventilation. The PM generated during cooking activities is composed mainly of elemental carbon (EC) and its derivatives, and the porous structure of PM with high surface-to-volume ratio is a perfect carrier of inorganic and organic matter. Conclusions: This review reveals a growing interest in PM exposure during cooking activities and highlights significant variability in the chemical–physical properties of particles, and thus variable exposure risks. Precise risk characterization improves possible preventive strategies to reduce the risk of indoor pollutant exposure. However, comprehensive PM analysis needs proper sampling and analysis methods which consider all factors influencing the physico-chemical properties of PM in an additive and synergistic way. Our analysis highlights the need for method standardization in PM environmental analyses, to ensure accuracy and allow deeper comparisons between future studies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 21 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-23
Acknowledgements: This research received no external funding.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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