All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Jonghwa Oh

Advisory Committee Members

Claudiu T Lungu

Ruzmyn Vilcassim

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) School of Public Health


Background: The food truck industry in the U.S. has rapidly expanded, with an average growth of 7.9 % from 2017 to 2022. Food truck workers are potentially exposed to harmful airborne contaminants such as particulate matter (PM) and aldehydes produced during cooking process. Kitchen exhaust hoods are designed to capture the cooking emissions, but it is not well understood whether the commercial kitchen exhaust hoods in food trucks are properly, efficiently operated to reduce the workers' exposure to such harmful contaminants. The purpose of the study was to evaluate food truck workers' exposure to respirable particulates generated from cooking process and ventilation performance of exhaust hoods in food trucks. Methods: Seven main cooks from seven food trucks operated in multiple cities of Alabama were recruited in this study. A real-time aerosol monitor with a PM4 impactor was placed in the main cook's breathing zone to collect respirable fraction particles. Personal air sampling was performed for their entire work shift and repeated three times (i.e., three days) for each cook in each food truck. The velocity of the food truck hood was measured using a hotwire anemometer to determine an exhaust flow rate, and capture and containment (C&C) was visually inspected with an air current smoke tube. Results: Three-day average concentrations of respirable particulate matter (RPM) ranged from 0.015 to 0.230 mg/m3. The ventilation performance of the food truck exhaust hoods showed an exhaust flow rate per linear meter of the hood of 191.0 – 381.6 L/s. The visual C&C inspection appeared that all exhaust iii hoods captured the majority of the smoke except one food truck hood. Conclusions: The daily average RPM concentrations of all cooks did not exceed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 5 mg/m3. 4 out of 7 food trucks had an exhaust flow rate below the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations. All cooks' three day average RPM concentrations tended to increase with a decreasing exhaust ratio of the average exhaust flow rate per linear meter obtained from each cook's food truck hood to the ASHRAE recommendation for the type of hood, but statistically significant relationship between the RPM concentration and ventilation performance was not found (Spearman's ρ = -0.7714, p = 0.0724). Further studies are needed to be conducted to understand seasonal variations of PM exposure as the present study was conducted in spring when most food trucks were not relatively busy.

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