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Dave Portnoy, Elon Musk, and more are fueling a false rumor about New York 'ruining' its iconic pizza industry

The proposal requires that any pizzeria using coal- or wood-fired ovens (installed before May 6, 2016) add a control device.

Dave Portnoy Pizzerias

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Despite what some in the media are saying, no one is coming for New York City pizza. The only difference would be that the air in and around the pizzeria where you choose to grab a slice will be cleaner.

What is everyone saying about the proposed rule for NYC pizzerias?

Following the proposal of a new rule in New York targeting coal and wood-fired ovens, the New York Post published an article with a source decrying the "ruining" and "destroying" of the quality of NYC pizza by requiring such establishments "slice carbon emissions by up to 75%."

The story quickly went viral, and others weighed in on the rule, possibly without reading what the proposal actually states. 

Elon Musk called the proposed requirement "utter BS" in a response to another Twitter post. Dave Portnoy, the figurehead of Barstool Sports, tweeted a video in which he railed against the policy. In an interview with Fox News that took place in an NYC pizzeria, Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke on the rule, blaming the proposal on the political left, stating, "They just don't want people to be happy." 

But the rules proposed by the New York Department of Environmental Protection have nothing to do with "carbon emissions," as the Post inaccurately stated.

The proposal instead aims to reduce "particulate matter emissions," which are bad for humans to breathe in. When pizza ovens are fired up, the burning of fuels like wood or coal creates this airborne pollution. As the EPA explains, this type of pollution is "a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets ... such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke."

Coal- and wood-fired ovens release significant amounts of particulate matter. This has been linked to serious health problems like asthma, heart and lung problems, and cancer.

The NYC proposal would require that any pizzeria using coal- or wood-fired ovens (that were installed before May 6, 2016) add an emission control device, if possible, to cut particulate pollution by 75%, as Heated reported. 

According to the proposal, if an assessment concludes that a reduction of 75% cannot be reached for one reason or another, efforts must be made to reduce particulate pollution by at least 25%.

In short, nobody is trying to deprive New Yorkers of a tasty slice of pizza. They're only trying to make it safer to grab one and create cleaner air for city residents and for those serving up the pies.

Why reducing particulate pollution is important

Recent studies in Italy and Brazil both found significant concentrations of hazardous pollutants inside pizzerias. In 2015, one small town outside Naples, Italy, even went so far as to temporarily ban wood-fired pizza ovens in an attempt to curb air pollution in the area, protecting citizens' health.

Changing how pizzerias operate doesn't have to harm the quality of the pizza. But it definitely can improve the quality of our air.

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