Charbroiling puts more particulate into our air than diesel trucks

According to a media release, researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found that commercial charbroilers — the same ones that grill hamburgers from your favorite burger joint — emit more particulate matter into the air we breathe than large diesel engines.

“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.”

Commercial cooking equipment generates grease, smoke, heat, water vapor, and combustion products. In its 2007 Air Quality Management Plan, SCAQMD (Southern California Air Management District) determined that commercial cooking is second-largest source of particulate matter in the South Coast Air Basin.

A proposed control — a device that removes grease from the exhaust and traps it in water — was tested  on Sept. 19. Researchers are evaluating data from the air stream released by the commercial charbroiler before and after passing through the control device.

According to Welch, the testing involves “cooking a lot of hamburger patties,” but they don’t go to waste. After the emissions test, the hamburger patties are donated to a Redlands Regional food bank.

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