A New Danger at the Grill - Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend

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shutterstock_337906790Memorial Day weekend is a time, first and foremost, to remember and honor our country's fallen military heroes.

It is, unofficially, a time to get outside, celebrate that summer is coming, and fire up the grill.

Before you start marinating the meat though, a new study warns of a hidden danger associated with grilling - the wire-bristle brushes used to clean them. When bristles get loose on these brushes, they can fall out, stick to the grill, be transferred to food and ingested.

How common is this? Really rare, just over 140 times a year in a country of over 300,000,000 people. People get hit by lightning over 230 times a year.

The study, published in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, was a cross-sectional analysis of national databases coupled with a literature review of injuries caused by wire-bristle grill brushes that resulted in emergency room visits from 2002 - 2014.

shutterstock_135656459From these data, they estimated that roughly 1700 emergency room visits nationwide were caused by bristles. Not surprisingly, these injuries occurred most frequently in the summer months (July was the highest), equally in males and females, with a mean age of 30 years old. Typically, the bristles lodged in the mouth, tonsils and throat, causing injury to that area.

So even though you are twice as likely to get hit by lightning, it isn't a bad idea to be cautious if you notice the grill brush looks like it was made during the Carter administration.  If a rogue bristle happens, it is likely to jab into your mouth but the only thing you want in your esophagus, stomach or intestine is a hot dog.

With that, Happy Memorial Day (whether you are grilling or not).