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Wood-burning stoves : Myths and facts

What could be more comforting on a cold January day than sitting next to a roaring fire and its pleasant warmth, appealing scent and enchanting flames?

But what about its effect on health and the environment?

The smoke produced by wood combustion is a major source of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particles (PM 2.5), nitrogen oxides (NO x) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The effect of these particles on the environment and public health is significant. A fireplace emits as much fine particulate matter in a nine-hour period as an average automobile over the course of an entire year (or 18,000 km). Some experts even consider these elements as being similar to second-hand smoke.

Every winter, the city of Montreal experiences around 30 episodes of smog mainly caused by wood-burning fireplaces. Health Canada estimates that over 1,500 premature deaths can be attributed to air pollution in Montreal.

Environmentally friendly solutions

It would be ideal to use a less polluting source of energy, such as electricity, to reduce any effects on the environment and our health. However, there are types of fireplaces that produce minimal emissions and conform to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, which recommend fewer than 2.5 grams of particle emissions per hour of combustion.

Before making a decision, consider the health of the environment and your family by avoiding the purchase of a fireplace or by opting for a low-emissions model.

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