Pizza shops and steakhouses using charcoal or wood burners can produce significant emissions and damage the environment in major cities, according to a new study in Brazil led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Researchers used the city of Sao Paolo in Brazil as a case study -– a megacity with a compulsory green policy on fuel, yet struggling to meet pollution standards less stringent than Delhi or London.
They found an emerging risk caused by wood burning stoves in pizza restaurants and charcoal in steakhouses to the environment.
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Crosswind caused by the impact of biomass burning of the Amazon rainforest and agricultural areas of Sao Paulo were also found to be a contributory factor on why the city’s air pollution is so toxic, despite a green vehicle policy.
Sao Paulo is the only megacity worldwide that uses a much cleaner bio-fuel driven fleet.
With about 10 per cent of Brazil’s total population, Sao Paulo’s inhabitants fill their vehicles with a biofuel comprising of sugarcane ethanol, gasohol (75 per cent gasoline and 25 per cent ethanol) and soya diesel.
“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,” said Prashant Kumar, from University of Surrey in the UK.
“These include wood burning in thousands of pizza shops or domestic waste burning,” said Kumar, who led the study.
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.
“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,” said Kumar.
“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,” he said.
This research follows recent work by another team of researchers, led by Kumar that assessed how Delhi’s landscape, weather, energy consumption culture and growing urban population combined to elevate concentrations of air pollutants, including ultrafine particles, which are the most harmful to human health.
The findings were published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.