Neapolitan pizza, please meet pollution

Its a little hard to imagine that Neapolitan pizza causes San Vitaliano to have worse pollution than Beijing…

"A town in Italy has imposed a temporary ban on the traditional way of pizza-making as a measure to curb soaring pollution.

An edict issued by the mayor of San Vitaliano, just outside of Naples, bans the use of wood-fired stoves in bakeries and eateries including pizzerias unless their owners install special filters to reduce air pollution."

I don’t have any trouble believing that many professional wood burning ovens in one small area could cause Beijing-levels of very bad pollution if the most significant measure of badness is not what you see but particle count in the air, the size of the particles and if the prevailing winds don’t blow the right way. I live in a very hilly farming area, particular for olives, and when the weather is windless but damp or mildly rainy, locals do a* lot* of burning of trimmed olive branches and such, and it is very tough going on the throat and eyes. Add to this, for more than a week, we’ve also had some people returning specifically for Christmas and opening up wood-burning fireplaces, and also that it has even been warm enough here to fire up the wood-burning outdoor ovens to make foccacia — I don’t want to go into details about the condition of everybody’s sinuses and mucous membranes on a food board, but the sound of the holidays around here has been the widespread sound of hacking coughing spitting.

I don’t think mandating the use of filters at the pizzerie will affect the quality of the pizza production, and would not suprise me if there are older residents and parents of that town who pushed to get the pizzaioli to comply. Could be that the local protesters against the filters are right in saying it’s a cover-up of the real source, and the pizzerie are being made to take the fall while the real problem goes unaddressed.

But I wouldn’t want to live in a town with 40 wood-burning pizzerie. Hope the filters work.

Here’s another story from Bloomberg on the issue, which includes the information that several towns in Italy have banned New Year’s traditions that involve the burning of wood pyres and shrubs. In Milan, Torino and Rome, authorities have instituted mandatory “driving holidays” on certain days because of extraordinarily high levels of air pollution and smog.

In many places, it has not rained for nearly two months, the air temps are unusually warm, the days are windless, so there is just a soup of smog.