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Love For Pizza Causes Environmental Damage in Brazil

Jun 22, 2016 04:25 AM EDT
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You might want to put down your pizza slice for this: a recent study revealed that emissions from pizzerias and steakhouses that use wood burners or charcoal can cause environmental damage in major cities.

In a study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, a team of air pollution experts from seven universities studied the pollution causes in Sao Paulo in Brazil. Despite a push for greener fuel policy, the Latin megacity is still struggling to lower its pollutants.

According to Economic Times, the crosswind from the biomass burning in the Amazon rainforest and agricultural areas of Sao Paulo contributes to the toxic air pollution experienced in the city.

But the burning of wood in thousands of pizza shops also contribute to the city's pollution.

The same report noted that the city is home to around 8,000 pizza parlors that whip up nearly a million pizzas a day. As many as 800 pizzas a day are made using wood-burning stoves in pizzerias and even a thousand more are cooked up for home delivery.

Unfortunately, this situation negates Sao Paulo's compulsary green move in using clean biofuel in their vehicles,. Sao Paulo is the only megacity in the world requiring the use of this biofuel, which is made of soya diesel, gasohol (75 percent gasoline and 25 percent ethanol) and sugarcane ethanol.

"There are more than 7.5 hectares of Eucalyptus forest being burned every month by pizzerias and steakhouses," said Dr. Prashant Kumar of the University of Surrey in the U.K. He added that a total of over 307,000 tons of wood are burned annually in these pizza places, as per a press release.

Vox further notes that the study gives recommendation for changing Sao Paulo's transport system and policy to reduce the number of vehicles in the megacity, which can count up to 7 million cars on the road.

While the study cannot exactly quantify the environmental impact of coal-fired pizza, it's already a reminder that everything we do are all connected--from our precious environment to our delicious pizza.

It's unmistakable that many pizzerias prefer wood-fired ovens that can get up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in an extra crispy crust. Unfortunately, it can come at a high environmental cost. And this concern is not exactly new: San Vitaliano, a small town in Italy just outside Naples, banned wood-fired stoves in 2015 due to air pollution concerns.

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