From the article:
"Customers at a Hesperia burger joint said you can’t compare diesel emissions with hamburger smoke. 'Either way, we’re living in a world (where) we’re still going through pollution. But the difference is we are getting some type of benefit from (the burger),' said Maria Segura."
And how does the burger get to the restaurant? Not to mention the equipment with which it was cooked. Furthermore, how did she get to the restaurant to enjoy the burger? Clearly, fuel-powered vehicles have had no benefit to human society.
Anyway, I'm hesitant to take the information in this article for granted. I don't doubt that burgers produce particulate matter that gets ejected out of the restaurant and into the air, and creating devices to reduce the amount of emissions is a laudable initiative, but the comparison that they give seems almost intentionally skewed. It's important to note that they say that the truck would have to drive 143 miles to produce the same mass
of particulates as one charbroiled burger. However, one of the more important concerns with greenhouse gases is the volume, or how much total area that they cover to create the "greenhouse cloud" that helps trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. How long certain emissions linger in the atmosphere is also an important consideration. Even if a charbroiled burger does produce a high mass of particulates, that does not necessarily mean that they will have an equal effect on the environment as 143 miles worth of diesel emissions. It's not like balancing things on a scale; a handful of heavy particles floating around in the sky does not automatically have the same effect as a thousand very light ones.
That being said, I do think that the study is warranted, and cutting back on emissions where possible is always a good idea. It just feels like the comparison that they gave could have been worded more carefully to avoid panic from environmentally-conscious restaurant owners and patrons. More information from the study is needed to know what the comparison really implies, and further studies are needed to show more precisely how the particulates from food may actually contribute to atmospheric pollution over time.