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Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), mutagenic aldehydes and particulate matter during pan frying of beefsteak
  1. Ann Kristin Sjaastad,
  2. Rikke Bramming Jørgensen,
  3. Kristin Svendsen
  1. Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Ann Kristin Sjaastad, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of HSE, Trondheim N-7491, Norway; ann.kristin.sjaastad{at}


Objectives Cooking with gas or electric stoves produces fumes, especially during frying, that contain a range of harmful and potentially mutagenic compounds as well as high levels of fine and ultrafine particles. The aim of this study was to see if polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and higher mutagenic aldehydes which were collected in the breathing zone of the cook, could be detected in fumes from the frying of beefsteak.

Methods The frying was performed in a model kitchen in conditions similar to those in a Western European restaurant kitchen. The levels of PAHs (16 EPA standard) and higher aldehydes (trans,trans-2,4-decadienal, 2,4-decadienal, trans-trans-2,4-nonadienal, trans-2-decenal, cis-2-decenal, trans-2-undecenal, 2-undecenal) were measured during frying on an electric or gas stove with margarine or soya bean oil as the frying fat. The number concentration of particles <100 nm in size (ultrafine) was also measured, as well as the mass concentration of total particulate matter.

Results Levels of naphthalene were in the range of 0.15–0.27 μg/m3 air. Measured levels of mutagenic aldehydes were between non-detectable and 61.80 μg/m3 air. The exposure level of total aerosol was between 1.6 and 7.2 mg/m3 air. Peak number concentrations of ultrafine particles were in the range of 6.0×104–89.6×104 particles/cm3 air.

Conclusion Naphthalene and mutagenic aldehydes were detected in most of the samples. The levels were variable, and seemed to be dependent on many factors involved in the frying process. However, according to the present results, frying on a gas stove instead of an electric stove causes increased occupational exposure to some of the components in cooking fumes which may cause adverse health effects.

  • Cooking fumes
  • occupational exposure
  • number concentration
  • ultrafine particles
  • trans,trans-2,4-decadienal
  • hygiene/occupational hygiene
  • cancer
  • exposure monitoring
  • indoor air
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

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  • Funding This study has been financed with the aid of EXTRA funds from the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation. The funding source had no involvement in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.