Restaurants’ contribution to the climate crisis

Anyone who’s ever stood at the wrong side of a barbecue grill knows the smoke is full of more than smells. This article details the contents.

Restaurants’ contribution to air pollution revealed

US survey found particle pollution downwind of eateries was higher than from major roads

Many of us have a favourite cooking smell. Maybe yours is baking bread or frying bacon but new types of equipment are revealing how restaurants contribute to our air pollution.

Problems were initially found with meat barbecuing, grilling and charbroiling but we now know that other cooking methods are implicated. Particle pollution from cooking was first identified in the air in London and Manchester about 10 years ago. Predictably, this was greatest at lunchtime and in the evenings; a phenomenon confirmed by more recent measurements.Advertisement

Scientists carrying portable instruments around the centres of Vancouver and Utrecht also found particle pollution around fast food restaurants, but the most detailed survey to date was done in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when an instrumented vehicle was driven around the city streets. The particle pollution downwind of restaurants was greater than that from major roads. Plumes from areas with lots of restaurants spread hundreds of metres into residential districts.

It is now estimated that commercial cooking produces about 13% of the particle pollution emitted in London. Apart from odour, emissions from catering have been largely ignored in UK and European cities but others, Hong Kong for example, already have some controls.

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