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Burgers vs. trucks: Which release more harmful emissions?

Sunday - 10/7/2012, 11:28am  ET

WASHINGTON - A new study out of California, a state well-studied on the topic of air pollution, has pitted the particulate emissions from charbroiled hamburgers against those of diesel trucks.

Allen Schaeffer is an advocate for clean diesel technology. The findings of the study, conducted by researchers with the University of California at Riverbend, conclude that more particulate emissions came from the burgers than from the trucks.

"In fact, about twice as much particulates in the air inventory are from charbroiling than from diesel trucks," he says.

The burgers were compared to the new generation of clean diesel trucks, which put out near-zero levels of emissions, Schaeffer says.

Schaeffer is the executive director with the Diesel Technology Forum, one of the nation's leading advocates for clean diesel technology. He says though the comparison is unusual, it also offers perspective.

"It would take one new-generation diesel truck driving 143 miles to equal the same amount of particles that came out of the grill from you having that one burger," he says.

South Coast Air Quality Management District sponsored the study. It looks at all sources of emissions, as all states do, says Schaeffer.

The Diesel Technology Forum analyzed the findings and says they are scientifically credible.

WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)