Barbecue Smoke Dangers

by Lisa

Please can you tell me are there any articles written about barbecue smoke dangers?

I am concerned about a BBQ restaurant opening right near me - I have read some scary stories about them becoming nuisances b/c of smoke and odor. I have also found some research that states that barbecue smoke is a lung irritant.

Are there any websites that document the down sides of BBQ for health, air quality and odor nuisances? I am not against the restaurant as long as it doesn't cause excessive odor and smoke.


I've taken some time to research any articles written about barbecue smoke dangers and the results need to be separated out into 2 distinct sections:

1. Fumes from the cooking of meat
2. The effects of wood smoke

The Fumes From Cooking Meat

When meat is grilled, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) are released and these are the same PAH's that can be found in cigarette smoke (thought to be one of the carcinogens).

One study has been done to demonstrate that the fumes from cooking meat have a detrimental effect on the birth-weight of babies. (Jedrichowski W, Perera FP, Tang D; Impact of barbecued meat consumed in pregnancy on birth outcomes accounting for personal prenatal exposure to airborn polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: birth cohort study in Poland. Nutrition 2012; 28(4):372-7) So one can conclude that the fumes derived from cooking meat aren't great.

But let's remember that none of this applies solely to the fumes from barbecue restaurants. In fact a study was done by a group of scientists that concluded that out of three types of restaurant (Chinese, Barbecue and American) the the PAH count was highest in the fumes of the Chinese restaurant and in sufficiently high enough levels to be capable of damaging the DNA in lung cells. (Chen JW, Wang SL, Hsieh DP, Yang HH, Lee HL. Carcinogenic potencies of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons for back door neighbors of restaurants with
cooking emissions. Sci Total Environ. 2012;417-418:68-75)

It's up to you to make up your own mind but what this says to me is that fumes from cooking meat are harmful so it's best not to live immediately next door to any restaurant no matter what style of food is cooked (except a vegetarian restaurant of course).

The Effects Of Wood Smoke

To summarize my findings, wood smoke is the second largest cause of airborne pollution in the USA after the automobile. Approximately 10% of airborne pollution is caused by wood smoke and the single biggest factor blamed is the wood burning stove that many of us have in our house.

Wood smoke contains poisonous gases and airborne particulates so small that they can penetrate windows and doors.

Whether wood or charcoal (derived from wood), barbecue smoke must therefore be considered a lung irritant just like any other smoke but only if inhaled in significant quantities like if you were smoking a cigarette.

By the same logic, wood smoke can be identified as a cause of asthma & cancer as well as aggravating many other lung conditions.

When using my barbecue I take every precaution to ensure that I'm not inhaling any smoke albeit this is on a small scale.

Whether the barbecue restaurant that has opened in your neighborhood is going to cause pollution? Inevitably I would suggest that the answer has to be yes.

Whether the level of barbecue smoke dangers presented by this restaurant is anything to worry about (versus the wood stove that you or your direct neighbor might have) is open to debate.

There will be so many factors to consider including the amount of wood burned, the size and height of the chimney, the strength and speed of the prevailing wind etc.

If you like more detail on the effects of wood smoke then please read this article.

See Also:-
Barbecue Restaurant Franchise

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Sep 21, 2020
Grill smoke and fire pits
by: Anonymous

I had to have my beloved 12 year old cat put to sleep because of heart or lung disease. My neighbors had fire pits and meat grills under my windows all summer. Quite a few times my apartment smelled like smoke so my cats inhaled the fumes. I miss my beautiful loving cat very much, she didn't deserve to be sick and have rapid heart beat at the end of her days, so I ended her suffering, even though I am still emotionally torn. I hate ignorant people and hope that my neighbors someday pay for both my emotional suffering and my cats suffering also. I hope to move far away from here someday. I don't open any of my back windows anymore even though it can get very hot in my apartment because I have two other cats that don't deserve health problems because my neighbors want to party on the lawn all summer long,LOSERS!

Aug 17, 2020
My neighbors don’t care
by: Anonymous

I approached my neighbors recently about thier grill near our window. My elderly mom has trouble breathing and this severly effected that . For a short period they opted to use a grill further away from our unit , but have recently gone back to the one closer . Do I have any legal way to stop this before it kills my mom?

Jul 26, 2020
Smoker grill issue
by: Anonymous

I live in a suburb and I have no issue with what my neighbors eat or cook however when their smoke comes deep into my house and my family has to try to get through the night with heavy smoke in their pillows in their hair sheets my nice clothes and coats and furniture I have a problem with that. Now I noticed that I suffer from headaches breathing issues and my children I’m more than upset. So I really want get some legal action done about it now that me and my husband have peacefully attempted to resolve a solution. I’ve tired after cleaning my home making it fresh just for my neighbor to smoke up my house literally every other night. The smoke is poisonous. I really appreciate the other comments and input from others I know l’m not alone and just as those taking the lead in protecting the community from the harms of any hazards this needs to be addressed seriously and not taken lightly. If anyone know what can be really done about this please pass it on to me, please.

Jan 26, 2018
Smoke in home from neighbours meat smoker
by: Anonymous

I am just after some advice. Yesterday I could smell smoke coming out of my evaporated cooling vents. It was leaving a significant smoke haze in my house. At first I thought there must be a fire nearby and checked emergency service alert site to see. There was no issues near by. The smoke was getting worse so I checked the man hole to see if I had a fire in the roof. Couldn't see anything went outside to check the roof from the back yard. As I am standing outside I notice the smoke is coming from the neighbours backyard. Is there rules on meat smokers ie do they need a flu etc. The smoke inside my house was so bad we were having trouble to breath let alone the smell. I have no issue with people cooking meat in their backyard but to be smoked out like this is ridiculous. I honestly thought there was a fire in my roof it was so bad and was so close to calling fire brigade until I realised what it was. Surely there are rules on using these type of bbq in built up suburbs. Smoker was placed beside the fence which is approximately a metre from my house. Thanks in advance for any advice. I just want to know where I stand prior to talking to the neighbour.

Paul's comment
Thanks for your question. There's no requirement for a smoker to have a flue but that said, the smoke generated when cooking meat is light. The ignition phase maybe where your neighbour got a lot of smoke.
Your best bet is to discuss with your neighbour and see if you can work something out.

Dec 07, 2017
It is Not Just About the Cook
by: Anonymous

This article contains some valuable information. But one glaring problem raises issues for me. The implication that the person doing the grilling needs to be careful of not inhaling too much smoke. What about the neighbors, as one commentator pointed out, get smoke in their homes with their windows closed. Neighbors who cannot enjoy their yards, and in the case of meat smokers, may be subject to hour upon hour of toxic wood smoke invading their bedroom all night long. Which is what we experienced. And yes, cook like you want, but keep the smoke on your own property, do not impose it on your neighbors. Anyone is fortunate if they have neighbors who agree the smoke pollution has to go. In my case, we were the only home getting the brunt of the meat smoking and grilling smoke, and the griller accused me of harassing him when we asked him not to burn after 9:30 PM or to move his equipment to the other side of this house. The victims of wood smoke created by outdoor cooking activities are often viewed as trouble makers. This has to stop.

Aug 23, 2017
Dangers of Meat Smoker in Close Neighborhoods
by: Anonymous

A new neighbor has installed a wood burning meat smoker in our neighborhood. They smoke meats on the weekends for 8 hours at a time. They are on a small urban lot surrounded by homes. The home directly behind them is occupied by a pregnant woman with a 9 month old and a 6 year old. I live down the street and my house fills with smoke smell even with the windows shut. I have lung congestion and a tight chest for days after an event. After reading up about the dangers which are very serious, I am just infuriated that someone would install such a device in a neighborhood. I went down to talk to them. They told me to close my windows and use a fan, and that it's their right to do what they want on their property. I say, do what you want on your property as long as it stays on your property. My boyfriend said to them, put a fan on your smoker and blow the smoke into your own house. Anyhow, the neighborhood is organizing to shut them down. Hoping that education and shaming will work. They are young, seem intelligent. I'm amazed that people can enjoy activities that cause harm to their neighbors. Apparently you can file a "nuisance" small claims case in some areas. There is a $7,500 fine if you win. This is in LA. Got to document all contact, doctors visits, contact the AQMD, etc. We all need to work locally to get ordinances to stop this. Meat smokers are particularly bad because of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons created that invade the lungs.

Mar 28, 2017
Barbeque Smoke Danger
by: Ernest Grolimund

The New York Health Dept has written on a website that there is no safe level of any kind of smoke. This includes meat smoke from gas fired barbeques. All organic matter burns producing the VAH's and other kinds of pollutants in tobacco smoke except perhaps the sharp dagger like microscopic particles. But the 180 toxic gases and particulates are all there including the free radicals. Smoke is what you see or smell or detect in injurious amounts. So barbeque smoke you see or smell is dangerous, thus illegal and should be stopped in most cases as a public health problem that is severe and an immanent danger with heart attacks and asthma attacks possible. I called NY, CT, MA and ME and found only CT and NY knowledgeable and caring at his time. It seems to vary depending on whether the Governor is republican or not. I have been going through the same problems with an indoor wood boiler, then an old stove, firepit, and now a gas meat smoker set up directly upwind of me when other locations are possible and might cause little or no problems. I believe it is a vengeful assault because I have gotten the wood boiler, stove and firepit shut down. Most lawyers do not understand the science and most scientists do not understand the law. But if you accept the science of the federal government on tobaccco and wildfire and finally wood smoke and meat smoke and diesel smoke and all smoke, then the Golden Rule applies which requires all humans to love or care for neighbors and requires them to no do anything that can kill, injure, sicken, poisen or even bother. It is an extension of the ten commandments. It is also included in Maine case law where I live.Some Chinese cities banned grilling if this helps for a precedent. You will have no luck with your city or state but if you sue by yourself, you might win. That is what I am concluding I have to do. I use 2 IQ Air Co air cleaners I asked that company to make and have used v groove weather stripping on some of my windows but I am an engineer by education with a high science IQ.

May 16, 2016
Charcoal smoke
by: Anonymous

I am 90 yrs. old in an apartment on the 2nd floor with below me somebody using a charcoal grill with smoke rising in my windows. My sister died of lung cancer.. Do I have a legitimate claim to stop this'?

Aug 26, 2011
Real Dangers from Barbeque Smoke
by: Anonymous

We just had a BBQ place open down the street, and guess what, me and other neighbors now have lung infections, pnuemonia and other issues with other organs in our bodies.

It affects everyone in different ways.

In particular, small children, teenagers, older individuals contract lung issues and OTHER conditions from the meat, oil, grease, fat that is being pumped into the air.

You can't see it once it leaves a small radius of the smoker, but in fact the air carries it 3-5 miles further.

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