March 17, 2003
Barbecue contributing to smog?

I always knew that Houston had poor air quality. I just never knew that barbecue was a contributing factor:

Analyzing particles in Houston's air, environmental engineer Matt Fraser of Rice University detected fatty acids among the millions of tiny organic particles that float in the city's atmosphere. The acids are released when fat drips onto hot coals and sizzles.

"It's definitely when you have an open grill. It's any process that generates meat smoke," said Fraser, whose study was recently accepted for publication in the journal Atmospheric Environment. "The compounds are specific to meat."

Come December 2004, fine particles may be subject to increased regulation in Texas if it is found that metropolitan areas such as Houston do not meet federal air quality standards for particulate matter -- what scientists call the mix of particles in the air. The area already exceeds federal guidelines for smog, and has until 2007 to come into compliance.

Research like Fraser's could be used by the state to determine which sources to eventually control.

You can have my grill when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!

Seriously, I don't expect it to come to that. There are bigger fish to grill, and a crackdown on backyard barbecuing would be even less popular than the ill-fated 55 MPH speed limit. If there's still an issue after the refineries have cleaned up and stricter emissions testing is in place, then we can talk about barbecue pollution.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 17, 2003 to Food, glorious food | TrackBack

It's true, barbecues cause air pollution, but not quite for the reasons the article stated. Long ago, Los Angeles banned charcoal lighter fluid as a major source of pollution. The stores replaced their stocks of accelerants with "chimney" devices. You dump the charcoal in the top, and wad up a newspaper in the bottom, and light a match. The flame works from the bottom up through the chimney, no accelerants required. I bought one and it works great.

Posted by: Charles on March 17, 2003 11:29 AM