Make your July 4th BBQ healthier for you and the environmentby Pima County News on Jun. 25, 2013, under air pollution, Environmental Quality, Health, Pima County, Southern Arizona, Tucson
According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbeque Association, the most popular holiday for barbecuing in the United States is July 4th. This year, if charcoal is your choice of fuel, try barbecuing without lighter fluid and our air will be healthier to breathe. Mixed with sunshine and other pollutants, the chemicals in lighter fluid create a pollutant called ground-level ozone. These chemicals can taint the taste of the food you are grilling. Charcoal lighter fluid, a petroleum distillate, can be hazardous if ingested.
If you plan to use charcoal for your barbeque, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality recommends using a charcoal chimney and crumpled paper instead of lighter fluid (which costs about $4 a can) to light your barbecue fire. After you light the paper and start the fire, the coals will be ready for grilling in about 17 minutes.
What is a charcoal chimney? It’s a metal cylinder about seven inches across with a handle and a grate in the bottom that holds the charcoal. A charcoal chimney costs about $15 and lasts for years.
Grilling with propane gas, natural gas or solar energy also reduces air pollution.
The Tucson area is close to exceeding the federal government’s standard for ground-level ozone. When ozone measures above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s ground-level ozone standard, it can cause health problems for some people. Elevated levels of ground-level ozone can affect children, the elderly and people with lung or heart disease, including asthma and congestive heart failure.
Pima County also suggests using plates, napkins, and forks and knives that can be used again, to help save natural resources by reducing waste. And to clean the grill, try an inexpensive paste made of baking soda and water, and a wire brush. It costs pennies and is completely non-toxic. Aerosol oven cleaners release toxic fumes. These small changes can save you money and improve the environment.