Cooking a roast dinner can cause indoor pollution worse than India's capital city, according to new research

Photoed/ShutterstockA traditional roast dinner.
  • Roast dinners could have a detrimental effect on air pollution in your home.
  • Researches at the University of Colorado found that cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner caused a surge in harmful PM2.5.
  • These particles are dangerous because of their minute size, which means they are able to penetrate the lungs and blood tissue.
  • “It compares to a very polluted city,” the lead professor said of their results.

Let’s be honest – no one’s eating a roast dinner for the health benefits.

Slabs of red meat, potatoes cooked in animal fat, batter puddings, and lashings of salty gravy won’t be making its way into any diet-friendly cookbooks anytime soon.

Roasts are a treat, though, normally reserved – in the UK at least – on Sundays to be enjoyed in the company of family or friends.

However, new research has suggested that roast dinners may be causing harm outside of their nutritional value and instead also in the air.

Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder found that everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning made a significant contribution to the air quality of your home.

“Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that,” said Marina Vance, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder.

The study, which Vance co-led, used advanced sensors and cameras to monitor the indoor air quality of a three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home while she and her colleagues conducted a variety of daily household activities, including cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner.

During the day of cooking, harmful PM2.5 levels in the house rose to 200 micrograms per cubic metre for one hour, according to The Guardian. These levels are higher than that of India’s capital in Delhi, which is the sixth most-polluted city in the world in terms of average particulate matter concentration – 143 micrograms per cubic metre.

For comparison, New York City’s PM2.5 levels average around 10 micrograms per cubic metre (though it varies by borough).

These particles are dangerous because of their minute size, which means they are able to penetrate the lungs and blood tissue where they can exacerbate respiratory disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Vance reportedly said of their results: “We were all surprised at the overall levels of particulate matter in the house.

“It compares to a very polluted city.”

She added: “The joke we’ve been telling ourselves as scientists is boil everything, avoid roasting, but it’s too delicious.”

The researchers found that roasting meat and vegetables emitted more particles than boiling because of the charred effect that cooks aim for.

“We know that inhaling particles, regardless of what they’re made of, is detrimental to health. Is it equally bad as inhaling exhaust from vehicle emissions? That we don’t know that yet,” Vance stipulated.

“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.”

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