Backyard burger and wiener roasts targeted by EPA

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The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency has its eyes on pol­lu­tion from back­yard barbecues.

The agency announced that it is fund­ing a Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia project to lim­it emis­sions result­ing in grease drip­pings with a spe­cial tray to catch them and a “cat­alyt­ic” fil­tra­tion system.

The $15,000 project has the “poten­tial for glob­al appli­ca­tion,” said the school.

The school said that the tech­nol­o­gy they will study with the EPA grant is intend­ed to reduce air pol­lu­tion and cut the health haz­ards to BBQ “pit mas­ters” from propane-fueled cookers.

Charged with keep­ing Amer­i­ca’s air, water and soil clean, the EPA has been increas­ing­ly look­ing at home­own­ers, espe­cial­ly their use of pol­lu­tion emit­ting tools like lawn mowers.

The school is propos­ing two fix­es to reduce emis­sions from bar­be­cues. First, they want to cut back on grease flare-ups. The idea: “A slot­ted and cor­ru­gat­ed tray is insert­ed imme­di­ate­ly pri­or to meat flip­ping, and removed imme­di­ate­ly after. This short con­tact time pre­vents the tray from over-heat­ing and volatiliz­ing the col­lect­ed grease. This col­lect­ed grease will then drip off into a col­lec­tion tray and can be used at the pit mas­ter’s discretion.”

But, total cap­ture isn’t “prac­ti­cal,” so a fil­ter and fan are pro­posed for instal­la­tion. “The sec­ondary air fil­tra­tion sys­tem is com­posed of a sin­gle pipe duct sys­tem which con­tains a spe­cial­ized met­al fil­ter, a met­al fan blade, a dri­ve shaft, and an accom­pa­ny­ing pow­er sys­tem with either a motor­ized or man­u­al method. This sys­tem can be pow­ered by either an exte­ri­or elec­tric motor with a chain-dri­ven dri­ve shaft, direct­ly spin­ning the fan blade, or a hand-pow­ered crank,” said the project write-up.

The grant is part of the EPA’s “Nation­al Stu­dent Design Com­pe­ti­tion for Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Focus­ing on Peo­ple, Pros­per­i­ty and the Plan­et (2014).”

The expect­ed results, accord­ing to the proposal:

We expect to lim­it the over­all air pol­lu­tion PM [par­tic­u­late mat­ter] emis­sions from bar­be­cu­ing and to alle­vi­ate some of the acute health haz­ards that a bar­be­cue pit mas­ter can expe­ri­ence from inhala­tion. The par­tic­u­late mat­ter present dur­ing cook­ing with and with­out the grease divert­er and PM2.5 fil­ters will be test­ed and com­pared to that of cur­rent data using a con­ven­tion­al propane bar­be­cue using a fume­hood cham­ber with detec­tors at CE-CERT. Per­son­al expo­sure of PM2.5 will also be mon­i­tored through­out the exper­i­men­ta­tion peri­od to deter­mine the degree of acute expo­sure of par­tic­u­lates to the cook.”