Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?
From The Guardian newspaper, April, 2014
Possibly. The future of wood-burning pizza ovens in Italy looked doubtful this week as laws came into force limiting the amount of pollution they are allowed to produce. Restaurateurs will need to get their ovens regularly tested to ensure they comply.
“When people think about air pollution, they think immediately about big industrial operations, power generation, transport,” says David Santillo, an environmental chemist at the Greenpeace research lab in Exeter University. “While wood-burning stoves are not the major source of contamination, they’re an important source and one that has probably been overlooked. They are one of the least regulated sources of particulates or other chemicals.”
Burning wood releases all sorts of chemicals. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are the main parts of the smoke (the relative levels depend on how efficiently the stuff has been burned). There’s also the possibility of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, depending on the fuel being used.
There are also tiny bits of organic and inorganic chemicals in smoke – so-called particulates. “The smaller they get, the more dangerous they are,” says Santillo. “The problem with them is the size of the particles – if they get into the lungs, they can cause problems, even lung cancer if you’re exposed over long periods.”
Where organic matter is used industrially, for example in power stations, the smoke is heavily filtered to remove as much of the nasty stuff as possible. Domestic or commercial ovens are less likely to have such filters.
Santillo says the problems of wood-burning ovens should not be over-stressed, however. In terms of urban air pollution, transport is still king.