Billowing smoke and the scent of sizzling meats might be familiar to anyone who drives down East Shaw Avenue in Fresno past Dog House Grill.
Officials with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District notice it, too. They’re tasked with noticing all kinds of smoke, even the emissions coming from barbecue restaurants like Dog House Grill that are a small fraction of the Valley’s total particle pollution, known as PM-2.5.
Even so, the air district, which must reduce overall pollution emissions by 283 tons per day – more than 80 percent – by 2024, is looking at regulating those restaurants. The air district already regulates chain restaurants like Burger King that use under-fired charbroilers, using technology that filters out dangerous particles.
Regulating restaurants like Dog House Grill would save less than half of 1 ton of PM-2.5 per day in the eight-county air district region.
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“We have such a big air-quality challenge here that we truly take the ‘no stone left unturned’ adage to heart,” said air district spokeswoman Jaime Holt.
We have such a big air-quality challenge here that we truly take the ‘no stone left unturned’ adage to heart.
Jaime Holt, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District spokeswoman
PM-2.5 causes hundreds of premature Valley deaths and can lead to a host of other significant health issues, such as pulmonary heart disease and cancer. Most pollution in the Valley comes from cars and trucks.
The air district is looking for restaurants to participate in a pilot program to test the new technologies, with most or all costs covered. Officials hope to determine whether the technologies produce the anticipated reductions and weigh the costs with benefits.
So far, only one restaurant has agreed – The Habit Burger Grill in Stockton. Air district executive director Seyed Sadredin said the agency is in talks with two or three other restaurants.
Sadredin said the agency will decide by 2017 whether the regulation is worth pursuing further.
“This really highlights the difficulty that regions such as ours face with respect to the federal Clean Air Act,” he said.