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Brazil's Love of Pizza Is Causing Major Air Pollution

Sad news for Brazilian pizza lovers

There are few things as delicious as a piping hot pizza. As recent reports suggest, however, that perfectly-crispy, wood-fired pizza comes with a surprisingly high environmental cost. As Vox reports, Brazil is grappling with air pollution brought on, at least in part, by wood-burning ovens.

Vox points to a recent report published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, which looked at air pollution in Brazil's largest city, São Paulo. Though the country has long struggled with pollution — largely due to its vast amount of cars — São Paulo inhabitants largely use "clean" biofuels to fill up their tanks. The authors of the study claim that Brazilians' passion for pizza is so strong, though, that it's negating the positive effect of those biofuels.

One of the study's authors, University of Surrey's Dr. Prashant Kumar, said in a press release: "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."

As fellow researcher Yang Zhang, from North Carolina State University, adds, "While most studies in Brazil have focused on impacts of vehicle emissions on air quality and human health, the impacts of emissions from wood/coal burning and meat-cooking in pizzerias and restaurants are yet to be quantified."

In New York, Mayor Bill DeBlasio has pushed legislation that would require pizzerias to install pricey air filters on coal- and wood-fired ovens as a way to to cut down on carbon emissions and other air pollutants.