Natural gas and propane are the cleanest and most energy-efficient fuels. To avoid propane fuel leaks, which can cause fires, most states require overfill safety devices on tanks. Check to make sure yours has one.


Unlike using charcoal or wood, electric grilling can safely be done indoors because no dangerous gases are released. Stoves, however, should be adequately vented.


While some barbecue connoisseurs adore the smoky flavor that wood imparts, burning it releases the greatest amount of ash and smoke, both respiratory hazards. Hardwoods, like hickory and mesquite (a.k.a. kiawe), are preferred but grow slowly. Never use lumber or wood scraps, which may have been treated with hazardous chemicals.


Charcoal is made from wood, but its production releases more greenhouse gases than burning wood and causes greater deforestation. Avoid the VOCs from petroleum-based lighter fluid and self-lighting briquettes by lighting coals with a newspaper-burning chimney starter.

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