Barbecue Meals Are Bad News For Your Skin

Recent research finds that the smoke emitted from barbecue pits contains carcinogens that aren’t just harmful to your lungs, but damaging to your skin as well.

barbecue dinners skin health

Grilled and charred meats are high in a harmful compound called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Photo:

We all know that being in close proximity to smokers increases our risk of inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke, putting our health at risk. Now, research shows that there is another type of smoke we need to be wary of – the smoke emitted from a barbecue pit.

According to an alarming study published in journal, Environmental Science & Technology, standing near barbecue pits affects skin health, and could also deteriorate organ function.

With a slew of barbecue restaurants gaining popularity, we could be prolonging skin exposure to harmful fumes as researchers revealed that barbecue pit smoke contains a harmful compound called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

For the case study, urine and cloth samples of individuals at a barbecue dinner were detected for the presence of PAHs.

Their investigation revealed that the PAHs in barbecue pit smoke enter the body through the skin, as well as inhalation. They also found that grilling or charring meat at high temperatures increases the amount of PAHs in your food that enter your body through ingestion.


According to this report, long-term exposure to PAHs may reduce immune function, cause kidney or liver damage, and reduce lung health. In worst case scenarios, these carcinogens could even increase the risk of developing cancers.

To limit exposure to carcinogens, avoid sitting or standing close to the barbecue grill. Aside from wearing a mask to limit inhalation of fumes, handle grilled or charred foods with utensils to minimise contact with harmful chemicals. Take extra precaution by washing your clothes as soon as possible after barbecue meals, as the harmful chemicals attach themselves to clothing, making it easy for PAHs to enter the skin.

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