July 15, 2010 -- 74 million households in the U.S. own at least one outdoor grill or smoker, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, but traditional charcoal grills produce smoke and soot particles that can pollute the air, irritate one's lungs, and aggravate heart problems.
Catherine Zandonella, author of "National Geographic Green Guide Families" shares some tips on "Good Morning America" on how to go green with your grilling and make your barbecue better for your health and the environment.
Charcoal: If you love that charcoal smoky flavor, but want to cut down on the pollution it creates, avoid charcoal with conventional additives such as sodium nitrate or charcoal with self-lighting petroleum products. Instead, buy natural wood briquettes that are certified and sustainably harvested, made without fillers and fossil fuels.
Web Extra: Green Guide magazine recommends Cowboy Charcoal Co. as one eco-friendly charcoal grill option.
To avoid using lighter fluid, which gives off petrochemicals that can penetrate your food, try a chimney starter, which you fill at the bottom with newspaper and the top with wood briquettes. If you light the bottom with a match, in about 20 minutes your briquettes will be ready to pour into the charcoal grill.
If you're looking for a grill that will keep your backyard air clean, try an electric grill. It emits the fewest pollutants into your yard and is good for outdoor cooks who have charcoal and gas restrictions in their communities.
But remember that nearly three-fourths of the electricity made in the U.S. comes from the burning of fossil fuels, according to the Department of Energy. Cooking on an electric grill for one hour creates about 15 pounds of CO2, because making electricity usually involves burning coal, gas or oil.
What's the Cleanest Grill?
The most popular grill in the U.S. and cleanest burning option is the gas-powered grill, which runs on either liquefied propane gas from a refillable propane tank or natural gas piped from your home's supply. The typical charcoal grill has a carbon footprint that is nearly three times larger than the gas grill.
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