air pollution, you automatically think of diesel engine fumes, smoke stacks from industrial plants and machine exhaust. You don’t think of a charbroiled hamburger.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, however, have found that commercial charbroilers — the same ones that grill hamburgers from your favorite burger joint — emit a large amount of particulate matter into the air we breathe; even more than diesel engines.
As such, UC Riverside is conducting a study on commercial cooking emissions. Co-funded by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD), the project’s goal is to evaluate potential controls by conducting emissions testing.
Commercial cooking equipment generates grease, smoke, heat, water vapor, and combustion products, but there are very few regulations for restaurant emissions. In its 2007 Air Quality Management Plan, SCAQMD determined that commercial cooking is second-largest source of particulate matter in the South Coast Air Basin.
“Emissions from commercial charbroilers are a very significant uncontrolled source of particulate matter…more than twice the contribution by all of the heavy-duty diesel trucks,” said Bill Welch, principal development engineer for the study at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-Cert). “For comparison, an 18-wheeler diesel-engine truck would have to drive 143 miles on the freeway to put out the same mass of particles as a single charbroiled hamburger patty.”