New Reasons to Keep Women (and Everyone Else) Out of the Kitchen

For many, the kitchen has traditionally been a place of great comfort and warm fuzzy feelings, but a new study has found that the kitchen might actually be a dangerous and miserable place—not because of the temptation of that freshly baked cake, but because the oven you use to bake that cake might actually be filling the room with more pollution than you'd find outside near a busy street. Oh, and then there's the other study found that kitchen knives pose a serious risk to your hands. So, if you insist on walking into your kitchen, you'd better proceed with caution.

The findings about air pollution came after researchers at the University of Sheffield measured the air quality indoors and outdoors at three different residential units. Two were apartments (or flats, as they call them) with gas stoves, one in the city center and one in an "urban location next to a busy road." The third was a house in a more rural area that had an electric cooker. What they found was a teensy bit alarming: The nitrogen dioxide levels inside the downtown apartment with a gas stove were three times higher than the levels they found outside and were above those recommended by the country's air quality guidelines. They also found that the concentration of small particulate matter (which gets in lungs and irritates them) inside both of the apartments with gas was higher than the government recommends for outdoor air quality levels.

One of the study researchers, Vida Sharifi, notes that part of the problem is that we've been sealing up our houses to make them more energy efficient, but that also means the bad stuff stays in. According to Sharifi, it's time to start thinking about what the consequences of that are: "We spend 90 per cent of our time indoors and work hard to make our homes warm, secure and comfortable, but we rarely think about the pollution we might be breathing in." There are obviously potential health risks associated with indoor pollution, but this was a very small study, so it can only tell us so much—namely that gas stoves seem don't seem so great for you, which sucks because they're so much better to cook on than electric. Sigh.

You know what else isn't so good for you? Knives! A poll, also done in the UK (God, what do they have against kitchens?), found that two-thirds of kitchen injuries come from cutting vegetables. A quarter of those surveyed said pumpkins were the hardest to cut. (I raise the hand that I once slightly maimed while trying to cut a pumpkin in agreement.) But here is something truly hilarious: Two in five of those polled said they had hurt themselves "trying to imitate TV chefs when slicing vegetables." Jeepers creepers, home cooks, what are you doing? Leave the high speed slicing and dicing to the professionals. This survey was conducted by a takeout ordering service called Just-Eat. David Buttress, managing director of the company, had a not very surprising take on the information it turned up:

Our research shows that cooking at home can be a dangerous game. [...] If it's a choice between laying down the potato peeler for a night and a trip to the hospital waiting room -– I know which I'd choose.

Very subtle, dude. It's either order takeout or end up in the hospital with a bloody stump. Well, which is it?! Of course, even taking this all into account and adding to it the risk of being splashed with boiling water, of clocking yourself in the head with the refrigerator door, and of slipping on a patch of spilled soda, the choice of whether to cook is ultimately up to you. But do yourself a favor: next time you contemplate making dinner—especially if pumpkin soup is on the menu and you're making it on your gas stove—be sure to weigh the risks versus the rewards before crossing the threshold into that deathtrap known as the kitchen.

Pollution Levels in Some Kitchens Are Higher Than City-Center Hotspots [ScienceDaily]
Pumpkin, turnips and swedes: the most dangerous vegetables revealed [Telegraph]

Image via YanLev/Shutterstock.