Does BBQ Smoke Kill?

This article discusses if BBQ smoke kills. People love to cook outside using their barbeque grill. As a matter of fact, most households own a griller. Barbecue is not only delicious, but it is easy to do as well. However, a lot of people are wondering if the smoke that comes from BBQ can cause health issues. Can BBQ smoke kills? We will answer that question in this article.

Does BBQ smoke kill? Long exposure to barbecue smoke can cause health issues. This is because barbecues produce carbon monoxide which is a colorless and odorless gas that is poisonous. In smaller concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning has symptoms similar to flu or food poisoning. However, it can kill a person in high concentrations.

Most grills and smokers nowadays use gas or charcoal, but some still use wood pellets or electricity. Wood chips, briquettes, pellets, sawdust, or logs can add flavor and aroma to the barbecue. When heated, they make smoke. However, you need to be careful of the barbecue smoke because long exposures can cause health issues. Read the rest of the article below for more information.

Does BBQ smoke kill
Image by Esi Grünhagen from Pixabay

Is Barbecue Smoke Dangerous?

Constant and long exposure to barbecue smoke can be dangerous. The reason for this is that smoke produced by grilling contains carcinogens as well as other pollutants that can damage health. Smoke inhaled directly from the grill can enter the body through the lungs, leading to health issues. Moreover, smoke from the grill is bad for the environment because it contributes to air pollution.

Fumes from Cooking

Grilled meat produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs which is also a substance that is found in cigarette smoke. According to a study, fumes from cooking meat can affect the birth weight of babies. The inhalation of smoke from the grill is a health risk. PAHs are easily absorbed in the lungs. Aside from that, the smoke that comes from charcoal or wood produces hydrocarbons which are a type of volatile organic compound. It also produces soot particles that can result in many respiratory illnesses when inhaled deep in the lungs.

Effects of Wood Smoke

Aside from health issues, wood smoke also causes airborne pollution. Household wood-burning stoves can contribute to air pollution. This is because wood smoke contains poisonous gases and small airborne particles that can go through windows and doors. Regardless you are using wood or charcoal, barbecue smoke is considered a lung irritant just like any other smoke. However, this can only happen if it is inhaled in significant quantities like you do if you were smoking a cigarette. Using this logic, wood smoke is identified as a cause of asthma & cancer. It can also aggravate many lung conditions.

BBQ Smoke Inhalation Symptoms

Microscopic particles that come from BBQ smoke can get into your eyes and respiratory system which can cause symptoms such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses like bronchitis. Furthermore, fine particles can aggravate asthma symptoms and trigger asthma attacks. Barbecue smoke can also trigger stroke, heart attacks, irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure. People who are already at risk for these conditions should be extra careful. While it is true that barbecue smoke smells good, it is not always good for you. Take note that the biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles which are also called fine particulate matter or PM2.5.

Dangers of Charcoal Grilling

Burning, charring, burning, or grilling meat, fish, and poultry over high temperatures can cause the formation of heterocyclic amines or HCAs. The HCAs can damage the genes of a person which raises the risk for colorectal and stomach cancers. Take note that the smoky flavor and char from a well-grilled steak are not good for you on the basic level. This is because when fat from the cooking meat drips down on the hot coals, the smoke that forms contains called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH. And the charred exterior of the meat is full of heterocyclic amines.

Charcoal Grilling May Pose Cancer Risks

According to the National Cancer Institute, PAHs are formed when fat from the meat drips to the charcoal which then rises with the smoke and can get deposited on the food. Furthermore, they can directly from on the food when it is charred. This means that the hotter the temperature and the longer the meat cook, the more HCAs are formed. Broiled and pan-fried beef, pork, fowl, and fish also have HCAs.

Can Smoke From a Grill Make You Sick?

Smoke that comes from a frill can make you sick. When fat from the meat drips to the coals of the grill, it ignites and produces smoke. The smoke contains cancer-causing chemicals which are called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Furthermore, when the smoke rises, it can deposit the chemicals on the meat. Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon is linked to certain cancers and illnesses.

✅ Video – BBQ White Smoke, Dirty & Bad Smoke!

Comparison Cooking shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses the difference between white, dirty, and bad smoke. Have you noticed the different kinds of smoke that come from your griller while you are grilling? You should be aware of what each smoke means. Check out the video to learn more about BBQ smokes.

Why is BBQ Bad for You?

Some of the reasons why BBQ is bad for you to include increased risk for certain cancers, increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, obesity, constipation, and raised cholesterol levels. Learn more about the potential side effects of eating grilled foods below.

Risk of Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

Some pre-made options to flavor steak or chicken are healthy, while others are loaded with sodium and sugar. Eating foods with too much sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Moreover, eating too much sugar can increase the risk of diabetes. Hence, grilling too much marinated meat is bad for your health.

Risk for Certain Cancers

There are foods that when cooked at very high temperatures can form natural chemicals called polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons. As we have mentioned above, these chemicals are linked to developing certain cancers, including esophageal and colorectal cancer. Polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when the food is charred or burnt. Hence, you need to avoid directly exposing the meat to an open flame. We have also written this article that discusses if it is safe to cook frozen meat without thawing. Check out the article for more information about the topic.


Grilled meats can be a part of a healthy diet, but they do not offer the body the necessary health benefits of fiber to help keep regular bowel movements. Eating too much grilled meat and not balancing your meat intake with fruits and veggies mean that you are possibly setting yourself up for some very unpleasant bathroom time.

Raised Cholesterol

Grilling fatty red meats and not opting for a fresh piece of fish or a leaner cut of meat can result in some cardiovascular challenges such as an increase in LDL cholesterol. An increase in LDL cholesterol can put you at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Regardless you are eating grilled, fried, or baked foods, eating too much saturated fat is not a heart-healthy diet choice and can put your health at risk.


Hot dogs are delicious and some people preferred them grilled. However, processed foods like hot dogs are often loaded with salt and fat, while being low in fiber and vitamins. Hence, eating too many processed foods sets can result in increased health issues like obesity.

Safety Precautions for Grilling

Few simple steps will help make grilling safer and healthier. Below are a few suggestions that you can follow when grilling your favorite food.

Tip 1: Before cooking on the grill, pre-cook the meat on low heat using a skillet, oven, or microwave. This will reduce the production of airborne chemicals and pollutants that coat the meat since some of the fat has already dripped during the pre-cooked process.

Top 2: It is best to grill vegetables instead of meats. Even when charred, grilled vegetables do not contain HCAs. You can grill vegetable kabobs that are delicious and provides many healthy nutrients.

Tip 3: Use aluminum foil to reduce dripping.  The foil will act as a protective barrier under the meat so that oil will not drip into the grill and produce smoke. You can also choose a leaner cut of meat to reduce the amount of fat that drips into the fire. You can also read this article that talks about how to grill frozen meat. We have shared tips and ideas for cooking frozen meat without thawing it first.

Top 4: Rather than using charcoal for grilling, you can choose gas or propane. Take note that charcoal emits more smoke as compared to gas. Moreover, charcoal fires are often started with chemical starter fluids that emit additional pollutants.

Tip 5: When grilling, consider your location and the direction of the wind. Make sure to adjust your grilling location.

Tip 6: Consider buying a smokeless grill. This type of grill is perfect to reduce smoke when grilling. There are many models that you can purchase on the market. Check out this article that we have shared titled, is a smokeless grill really smokeless? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.


In this article, we have discussed if BBQ smoke can kill. We have found out that long and constant exposure to barbecue smoke can cause health issues. There are many health risks when it comes to grilling. While the smoke that comes from the grill smells good, it is bad for your lungs. Next time you fire up the grill, make sure to do the necessary guidelines to stay safe and healthy. Thank you for reading!

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