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Charbroiler Emission Controls Take a Bite Out of Pollution

By: Lisa Gelino-Titcomb

Charbroiler without a catalytic oxidizer
Charbroiler without a catalytic oxidizer

When you think of air pollution, you automatically think of diesel-engine fumes, smokestacks from industrial plants, or car exhaust. You usually don’t think of a charbroiled hamburger. While it may be hard to imagine the all-beef patty as an environmental nuisance, previous findings show that the commercial charbroilers used to cook hamburgers emit a large amount of particulate matter into the air we breathe.

One of the Division of Air Quality’s Area Source Rules requires all chain-driven charbroilers to have a catalytic oxidizer installed and maintained to control particulate emission produced during use. The catalytic oxidizer’s job is to eliminate smoke and grease left over from the cooking process. It accomplishes this much like the catalyst in your car by utilizing heat generated from the platinum-coated fins to disintegrate the grease and smoke.

My task was to identify the local restaurants that use the chain-driven charbroiler to help them understand how to comply with the rule.

I started by contacting the Salt Lake County Health Department, which helped me identify which restaurants were using the chain-driven charbroiler. I also obtained a local Utah business database from the Department of Workforce Services, connected with the local restaurants, and made numerous site visits.

Ultimately, I identified 26 restaurants that were operating without the catalytic oxidizer installed.

Charbroiler with a catalytic oxidizer
Charbroiler with a catalytic oxidizer

The next step was to help these companies come compliant with the rule, so I spoke with a few local companies to see just how much the catalytic oxidizer would cost. I went one step further and contacted the manufacture, and I was able to get a 31 percent price reduction if we ordered a large quantity. But the oxidizers were still a large expense for these small operations.

Fortunately, financial help was available from the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR).

UCAIR is a statewide clean air partnership that provides grants to small businesses to assist them with upgrades to their current equipment. The group wanted to help these companies reduce their emissions and improve air quality, so they purchased 23 catalytic oxidizers for these restaurants. After installation, this should result in a 36,611 pound-per-year emission reduction!

Now you can “have it your way” and feel confident that the charbroiler that grilled your burger isn’t adding particulates to our airshed.

Over the past few years, DAQ has developed 25 rules to reduce emissions from area sources along the Wasatch Front — everything from auto-body shops to consumer products like hairspray. Want to learn more? Visit the Division of Administrative Services website for a complete list of our area source rules.
Lisa Gelino-Titcomb

I am the Area Source Rules Coordinator at the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ). I do education and outreach to ensure that businesses know about the air quality requirements and understand the measures they can take to comply with the area source rules. I have worked at DAQ for 15 years in various positions. I enjoy traveling and outdoor activities with my kids and dogs.

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