Before answering the question, remember that a barbecue is a piece of equipment that cooks by direct combustion.
It should therefore come as no surprise to find that barbecuing produces gas and smoke containing polycyclic hydrocarbons: what experts call PCHs.
And once fat falls on to the flames, the resulting smoke is even more dangerous.
But there is another danger associated with the use of barbecues: the combustion of proteins leads to the production of heterocyclic aromatic amines or HAAs.
These two groups of substances, PCHs and HAAs, are recognised as carcinogenic by the WHO International Cancer Research Centre in Lyon, France.
However, this is not a reason to give up the pleasure of having a barbecue with family and friends.
The risks are limited and easily controlled.
It just needs a bit of common sense to avoid inhaling smoke from a barbecue.
You can also reduce emissions by simply not cooking the meat over too high a flame.
Don’t place meat too close to the burning charcoal, don’t leave the grill in place when fats are burning … and never ever eat anything charred or burnt.