Making toast exposes people to toxic air pollution

Revealed: Making toast exposes people to more toxic air pollution than standing at a busy traffic junction

  • Toasters release toxic particles into the air from the moment they are turned on
  • University of Texas researchers found safest way to heat bread is to ‘go for gold’
  • Scented candles, wood-burning stoves and gas cookers also release pollution 

Burnt toast could expose households to more toxic air pollution than if they were standing near a busy road, a study has revealed.

Scientists said toasters, alongside scented candles, wood-burning stoves, and gas cookers, could create pollution as people cook and clean inside their homes.

A study by the University of Texas at Austin found that toasters release toxic particles into the air from the moment they are turned on, the Sunday Times reported.

The safest way to make the breakfast food is to ‘go for gold’ and only allow the bread to become a light brown colour, experts said.

Scientists said toasters, alongside scented candles, wood-burning stoves, and gas cookers, could create pollution as people cook and clean inside their homes (file photo)

Speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Marina Vance said: ‘When you make toast, the heating element starts warming up the debris and gunk in the toaster which includes oils.

‘Add to that the bread itself – it’s going to emit a range of things. We found ethanol, a by-product of yeast. If there’s tiny pieces of bread touching the heating element you can see from the smoke, maybe from the crumbs at the bottom of the toaster – they will all make a lot of particles.


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‘It’s led to what would be considered “very unhealthy” air pollution levels compared to the outdoor air quality standards.’ 

The research team built a replica three-bedroom house equipped with monitors to discover how air quality changes as people undergo everyday tasks.

A study by the University of Texas in Austin found that toasters release toxic particles into the air from the moment they are turned on (file photo)

They noticed a surge of toxic particles and chemicals when household cleaning sprays, scented candles and wood-burning stoves were used. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 25 micrograms of fine particulates per cubic metre should be found in the air.

This is far less than the 3,000 to 4,000 particulate levels which were found in the atmosphere when toast was allowed to turn dark brown.

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