Try to barbecue without the lighter fluid over the July 4 holiday and you’ll reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds released into the air. Mixed with sunshine and other pollutants, those chemicals add to ground-level ozone. They can also taint the taste of the food you are grilling.
If you plan to use charcoal, 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.
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 many years.
Once you light the paper and start the fire, the coals will be ready for grilling in about 15 minutes.
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. Once 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 it’s cheaper to use a wire brush and a paste made of baking soda and water to clean your barbecue grill. It costs pennies and is completely non-toxic. Aerosol oven cleaners give off toxic fumes.
For more information, visit www.deq.pima.gov or call Beth Gorman at (520) 243-7446.