Scientists in China figured out a way to track cooking emissions and determined that air quality in Chinese cities could benefit from the reduction of cooking fumes, according to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Currently, it is challenging to separate cooking fumes from traffic pollutants. A team at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, found that black carbon is a good tracer to separate these two types of pollutants. By applying the tracer method to several datasets in Beijing and Nanjing, they found that cooking fumes contributed 15-27% to total organic aerosol during the summer and more than 10% during colder months with a significant increase in coal combustion emissions.

“Considering that ACSM has been increasingly deployed worldwide for routine measurements of aerosol particle composition, our study might have significant implications for better source apportionment of OA and exposure studies in the future,” researcher Yele Sun says in a statement.