Is pizza bad for environment?

Is pizza bad for environment?
Highlights

When it comes to pizzerias and steakhouses using wood burners, the environment may be in trouble. A recent study points out the underlining pollution causes of the Latin American city of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

When it comes to pizzerias and steakhouses using wood burners, the environment may be in trouble. A recent study points out the underlining pollution causes of the Latin American city of Sao Paulo in Brazil. This work is a collaborative effort by ten leading air pollution experts from seven universities, led by the University of Surrey's Dr Prashant Kumar.

The Latin American megacity of Sao Paulo is the only megacity worldwide that uses a much cleaner bio-fuel driven fleet. With about 10 percent of Brazil's total population, Sao Paulo's inhabitants fill their vehicles with a biofuel comprising of sugarcane ethanol, gasohol and soya diesel.

Dr Kumar said: "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. These include wood burning in thousands of pizza shops or domestic waste burning."

Despite feijoada (a pork and bean stew) being the often hailed Brazil's national dish, pizza is revered by the residents of Sao Paulo. People of all ages line up for hours outside pizzerias every Sunday evening and the city is home to around 8,000 pizza parlours that produce close to a million pizzas a day and can seat up to around 600 people a time.

In addition to the 800 pizzas a day being made using old-fashioned wood burning stoves, a further 1,000 a day are produced for home delivery, with Sunday being the busiest day of the week. Dr Kumar continued, "There are more than 7.5 hectares of Eucalyptus forest being burned every month by pizzerias and steakhouses. A total of over 307,000 tonnes of wood is burned each year in pizzerias.

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." Co-author Maria de Fatima added, "Although the huge number of passenger vehicles and diesel trucks are the dominant contributor to particle emissions, at least we understand the impact that this is having on the environment and can factor in solutions.

The important contributions to particle emissions gained from burning of wood and the seasonal burning of sugar cane plantations need to be accounted in future studies as they are also significant contributors as a pollutant."

In addition, another part of the problem is the impact of the neighbouring Amazon rainforest. Biomass burning from the south southern edge of the forest can be transported across the Atlantic coast to Brazil and had to be included in the qualitative assessments of the city air pollution. (The study is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.)

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