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Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

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  • Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

    From The Guardian newspaper.
    Alok Jha
    Thursday April 21, 2005

    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.

  • #2
    When pizza ovens are outlawed:

    Only outlaws will have pizza ovens.

    No, seriously, it's thought that wood releases no more polution being burned than it does rotting on the forest floor.

    In addition, hot fires release less polution than smouldering ones, as in a banked down wood stove.

    Now, if you are in a place where air pollution is a serious problem, there may well be restrictions on wood burning, but in most of the US you should be ok at the moment.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Crazy law

      That sounds like something California would try to do. On the global scale, ovens would put an insignificant amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. Mt St. Helens puts out 50 - 250 tons of sulfur dioxide gas a day. Italy's Mt. Etna emits around 100 times that. If they want to solve a problem, put a cork in their volcano.
      Check out my pictures here:

      If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.


      • #4
        ya'll gots nuthin' ta' fret over.

        We're nuetralizing the carbon being released from all your pizza ovens with all the weeds in our garden right now..


        • #5
          Hey Nick,

          We have a veggie garden where the weeds are higher than the tomaotes, but I prefer to call it Organic. I have never used a chemical pesticide or fertilizer.

          My view is that brick ovens don't pollute. They burn so hot that the exhaust is clear. It's something like a catalytic converter, where the smoke is fully burned before it leaves the oven. If you compare what comes out of a fireplace with what comes out of a pizza oven, it does not compare. Our oven producer actuallly markets the ovens as a "green" product in Italy, calling them ecologico in all the brochures.

          A building inspector who are very against wood fireplaces in California told me that he did not think ovens were a problem, because unlike fireplaces, which can run all winter for heating, the amount of wood burned in bricks ovens is very low.

          That said, I have never seen the science on brick ovens. Relative to other polluters, I cannot imagine that our ovens are even a drop in the bucket. Personally, I take this stuff seriously, and our family has two Hybrid cars, but I do not think ovens are not a problem.
          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces


          • #6
            Pollution from brick oven's

            I look at the pollution aspect of a brick oven from a different angle. If you fired you brick oven on a friday night made some pizza's with your friends and then made some bread later that weekend, compare that to buying those items. How much pollution is created in the making of the pizza and pizza box it got delivered in, and how much pollution was created in delivering it to your house. Same as bread. The electricity to make that bread at your local grocery store is coming from somewhere (most likely a coal fired generating plant), the plastic bag it comes is most likely going to the landfill and some grocery stores don't make their own bread, its transported from a bakery!

            I haven't even built my oven yet and I'm getting fired up!!

            "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison


            • #7
              Molto buono,

              Don't forget the gas burned by the pizza delivery truck!
              Pizza Ovens
              Outdoor Fireplaces


              • #8
                Berkeley has outlawed wood ovens

                Berkeley California has city ordinances against wood fired ovens and fireplaces. But pellet stoves are ok. The future is pellet fired ovens!


                • #9
                  Berkeley California is home to one of the first wood fired ovens at a major restaurant, Chez Panisse, run by Alice Wlaters. Stril in operation, was there last week and had an excellent wood fired pizza.


                  • #10
                    toast, anyone?

                    Don't forget the pollution caused by making electricity to run your 2400W quartz bar toaster! It's absolutely necessary to toast the kind of sliced soft rag-like 'bread' that's being sold in Oz, otherwise you can't put anything spreadable on it! (We're still waiting on our replacement electric oven so we can return to sourdough bread-making - and Bianca doesn't know yet what will come out of the planned duomo...)
                    "I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it"


                    • #11
                      Re: Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

                      The new ovens out that I've seen are Wood and Gas temperature regulated.

                      Meaning (GAS) holds your oven at a constant temperature, not a true wood fire pizza, but proof that wood burning ovens are here to stay.....check out Maccoroni Grill...if any nearby


                      • #12
                        Re: Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

                        OH Well,... I guess my two years + of research and planning (where to build my oven,what type, what size etc.) has just gone up in smoke!!! I guess I'll just have to get used to that 'fake cheese-stuffed frozen dough product with the artifical tomato like gel and the freeze dried cardboard flavored mushroom speckles because I can't burn a bundle of wood now and then. On second thought.......NNNAAAAHHHH!!!! Hey!, maybe I'll take the catalytic converter off of my truck and mount it on the oven chimney? PROBLEM SOLVED!!!Duh C'mon people.... go after the real culprits responsible for our planets demise. (you know whose responsible) BUILD ON!!!
                        View my pictures at, Picasaweb.google.com/xharleyguy


                        • #13
                          Re: Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

                          I think the key here is "major".....so no way compared to the millions of gallons of fuel burned daily for transport and the millions of tons of coal for power plants....in fact, China will soon be the largest user of coal fired power plants!

                          Whatever you use to cook uses something for energy with a waste byproduct....unless you're using solar or geothermal heat to cook.

                          I love the smell of wood smoke....enjoy your pizzas!
                          sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


                          • #14
                            Re: Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

                            I just read that China puts more electricity on the grid every year than is used by the entire UK. I need to think about that for a minute.
                            Pizza Ovens
                            Outdoor Fireplaces


                            • #15
                              Re: Are pizza ovens a major source of pollution?

                              (excerpts from a New York Times article...June 11, 2006)

                              One of China's lesser-known exports is a dangerous brew of soot, toxic chemicals and climate-changing gases from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants. Researchers in California, Oregon and Washington noticed specks of sulfur compounds, carbon and other byproducts of coal combustion coating the silvery surfaces of their mountaintop detectors.

                              Already, China uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. And it has increased coal consumption 14 percent in each of the past two years in the broadest industrialization ever. Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego.

                              To make matters worse, India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants ? and has a population expected to outstrip China's by 2030.

                              Unless China finds a way to clean up its coal plants and the thousands of factories that burn coal, pollution will soar both at home and abroad. The increase in global-warming gases from China's coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years, surpassing by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks.

                              sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!