Toast more toxic than roadside air, research finds

burnt toast toxic emissions

New research by the University of Texas suggests that the smoke from your burning toast is a lot more toxic than traffic fumes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that air should contain no more than 25 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulates. When you burn your toast, you’re exposing yourself to as much as 4,000 micrograms per cubic metre… This, according to academic journal Atmosphere.

Golden brown toast, the ideal level of toasting according to experts, still sees particulate levels skyrocket to between 300 and 400 micrograms per cubic metre.

For comparison, recent studies have suggested that there are 250 micrograms per cubic metre of air in London tube stations. That’s 20 times higher than what the WHO would consider acceptable. Atmospheric conditions cultivated during the burning of toast are more like 150 times the WHO limit… On the street, you can expect around 13.7 micrograms per cubic metre.

We’re not about to publish a guide on how to cook your toast – that would be a bit beyond our envelope of expertise. It seems common sense, however, to suggest you might want to open a window while making toast, or cooking in general.

burnt toast toxic emissions

Indeed, there are a number of pollutants that lower air quality indoors. Woodburners and fireplaces are obvious dangers, as are air fresheners, aerosols, gas cookers, spray cleaners. We’ve covered the dangers of candle-burning beyond the obvious fire risk before. All sully the air that we breathe.

It does lend an intriguing perspective on the hotly debated topic of urban pollution and air quality. Is it a bit rich to scrutinise motor manufacturers so meticulously for emissions and urban air quality? Especially when we could be causing much more harm at home or indoors.

Given that, according to researcher Marina Vance, “in most of the developed world, people spend about 90 percent of their time in indoor environments,” it’s worth pondering. Food for thought…

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