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Pizza pollution: Scientists measure wood-fired oven emissions

"A total of over 307,000 tonnes of wood is burned each year in pizzerias," said researcher Prashant Kumar.

By
Brooks Hays
Researchers say pizza parlors in Sao Paulo, Brazil, account for a small but significant portion of the city's air pollution. Photo by svariophoto/Shutterstock
Researchers say pizza parlors in Sao Paulo, Brazil, account for a small but significant portion of the city's air pollution. Photo by svariophoto/Shutterstock

SAO PAULO, June 17 (UPI) -- How sustainable is Neapolitan pizza? Or that new Brazilian steakhouse?

Recently, a team of researchers set out to measure the environmental impact of wood-fired ovens and other often unaccounted emissions sources in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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Scientists were moved to the work by the significant levels of air pollution in Sao Paulo, despite the use of biofuels like sugarcane ethanol, gasohol and soya diesel to power vehicles in the city.

"It became evident from our work that despite there not being the same high level of pollutants from vehicles in the city as other megacities, there had not been much consideration of some of the unaccounted sources of emissions," researcher Prashant Kumar, an environmental engineer at the University of Surrey, said in a news release. "These include wood burning in thousands of pizza shops or domestic waste burning."

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Sao Paulo is home to 8,000 pizzarias, making close to a million pizzas a day. Many use wood-fired ovens.

"There are more than 7.5 hectares of Eucalyptus forest being burned every month by pizzerias and steakhouses," Kumar explained. "A total of over 307,000 tonnes of wood is burned each year in pizzerias."

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"This is significant enough of a threat to be of real concern to the environment negating the positive effect on the environment that compulsory green biofuel policy has on vehicles," Kumar added.

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Though vehicles remain the dominant source of particulate matter in the air surrounding Sao Paulo, researchers say presenting a more accurate and specific picture of emissions sources can help policy makers and environmental engineers devise more effective solutions.

"We believe that the contents of this new direction article provide an unprecedented approach in examining the adverse impact of air pollution in such a unique megacity as Sao Paulo," Kumar concluded.

The new research was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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