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How Restaurants Contribute to Air Pollution


Northern California residents have been on high alert these past few weeks due to the dangerous air quality caused by the widespread California fires. The recent orange skies and falling ashes have temporarily closed down many outdoor dining venues as well. While currently these fires are seriously affecting our physical and mental state, in the long run, they are not the only culprits contributing to poor air quality. In fact, restaurants are a huge contributor to air pollution as well. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the amount of airborne pollutants emitted by restaurant kitchens.


A restaurant’s kitchen is very different from our kitchens at home mainly because commercial kitchens are almost constantly being used for cooking. The large amount of oil and other organic matter used in the restaurant kitchens, are aerosolized and ventilated into the outside environment from the kitchen exhaust.


A recent Carnegie Mellon study found restaurants are mainly responsible for high concentrations of organic aerosol, a large source of air pollution, within their immediately surrounding areas. The amount of smoke and grease released can have major effects on the environment. Greasy buildup near the exhaust ducts aren’t just unsightly and unsanitary, they can also become a fire hazard. In addition, exhaust from restaurants can enter nearby homes and buildings which would increase indoor air pollution as well.


The first step to controlling the amount of pollutants your restaurant expulses into the environment is to keep your vents and filters clean. The filters trap airborne grease and oil, so it is extremely important to keep them clean. Many commercial kitchen exhaust hoods have vents that lead to the outside, and these vents are a popular place for grease to build up. Dirty vents are a risk for a grease fire, so it is important to check them regularly and keep them clean.


Many restaurants, especially those which constantly use a charbroiler, invest in pollution control units. These units use a system of special filters to help clean grease, smoke and odors from the exhaust airstream of commercial kitchens and restaurants. If you would like to learn more about the different exhaust systems available for commercial kitchens, contact Restaurant Design Concepts for more information.