“It may be a long-lived and much-cherished tradition, but cooking a Sunday roast can produce air pollution worse than that found in the world’s most toxic cities.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that roasting meat and vegetables can result in dangerous airborne particles being released into your kitchen at levels more than 20 times higher than the World Health Organisation limit: 13 times higher than in central London on a congested day, and notably higher than the New Delhi average.
Conducted in a specially adapted house, the experiment was the first to use sensors able to detect the finest, and most dangerous, particulate matter, including PM2.5 particles (smaller than 2.5 micrometres across). Small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, PM2.5s are implicated in 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. Simulating a busy cooking day, such as Christmas Day, Professor Marina Vance’s team found that particles stayed at levels above the WHO maximum for more than eight hours. The solution? Open windows, turn on extractor fans and avoid using a very hot oven, because of the charring. The team also found that frying food raises pollution to dangerous levels. (Daily Telegraph and The Week, 2 Mar 2019).
My mother used to make spectacular and tasty Yorkshire pudding, but then she was a Yorkshirewoman. Since then, worried particularly about particulates in the air, I have stopped eating beef and pork along with Yorkshire pudding, and breathe only three times a minute to prevent air pollution. (For the serious philosophers among the readers: this is a joke. Just thought I would point it out).
I am passionately concerned about the environment and the world my grandchildren will inherit. All the same, you can’t read a news item that isn’t pointing out how bad for us everything we do is for our health and the planet. Gets a bit depressing. Anyway, eat more fruit.