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Why cooking a Sunday roast is bad for your health

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sunday, 24 February 2019, 11:19AM
Cooking a Sunday roast is worse for air pollution than being in Delhi or London. (Photo / Getty)

Anyone planning on cooking a roast chicken today might want to re-consider. 

Researchers from the University of Colorado has found that cooking a Sunday roast creates more air pollution than some of the world's most polluted cities. 

Marina Vane, who led the research, told The Guardian that they were all surprised by the results. 

“We know that inhaling particles, regardless of what they’re made of, is detrimental to health."

For the study, researchers cooked a number of meals in a three-bedroom house. When they cooked a Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey, sprouts, and potatoes, the PM2.5 levels rose to 200 micrograms per cubic metre for one hour.

That was more than the average levels in Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city, and central London. The cities registered 143 and 15 micrograms per cubic metre respectively. 

New Zealand scientist Michelle Dickinson told Lorna Subritzky that the research has found that the combination of the gas furnace and the fats in the food produces the toxic combination. 

"It creates what's known as a 'fine soot' material, and the challenge of these particles are the size."

She says that when measuring outdoor air pollution, they measure the particles in micrometres known as PM (particulate matter).

PM2.5 particles are the most dangerous. Dickinson says they are three per cent of the width of your hair, and are very light and very easy to breathe in. These particles are so small they can only be detected with an electron microscope, however they can become embedded deep in people's lungs and spark various health issues.

"We're worried about that in outdoor pollution and the health effects like asthma and bronchitis. But looking at your roast dinner, it actually creates these particles inside your home at very high levels."

However, Vane says that they do not know yet if it as bad for you as inhaling exhaust fumes from motor vehicles.

“This compares to a very polluted city, but what’s important to remember is that this was for a short period of time. When you live in a polluted city you’re in it for 24 hours a day.”

Dickinson says that people could lessen the damage by opening the windows and putting the vent on.

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