This Brekkie Staple Could Be More Toxic Than Car Fumes, Study Finds

Think setting off the fire alarm and wasting perfectly good pieces of bread are the only real downsides to burning toast? Think again, friend.

New research out of the University of Texas has found that overdoing it – even slightly – can be seriously detrimental to your health. In fact, experts say it can potentially be more toxic than standing at a busy intersection.

“When you make toast, the heating element starts warming up the debris and gunk in the toaster which includes oils,” said researcher Marina Vance, speaking at a meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science. “Add that to 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 the smoke, maybe from crumbs at the bottom of the toaster – they will all make a lot of particles.,” she added. “It led to what would be considered ‘very unhealthy’ air pollution levels if compared to outdoor air quality standards.”

So, what’s the ideal toastiness, you ask? Aim for a light golden colour, max.  

Reason being, the World Health Organisation recommends air should contain no more than 25 micrograms of fine particulates at any given time. And when bread is toasted even lightly, particulates surge to 300 to 400 micrograms per cubic metre. As soon as it turns dark brown, however, the particulates reach 3,000-4,000 micrograms per cubic metre. i.e. the equivalent air quality you’d find at a busy intersection. Not ideal. 

Treating this as a wakeup call to put the toaster to bed? Here are a few healthy brekkie options to get you started…

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