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Santé Montréal

Wood heating

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Over 85,000 homes on the Island of Montréal have wood stoves or fireplaces. Some people like to sit by a fire because of the atmosphere it creates. Others use wood stoves as back-up heating systems, and a few still use wood as their main source of heat.

Wood smoke contributes to outdoor air pollution. This pollution can make its way into neighbouring homes and affect indoor air quality. Indoor air can also be affected when a stove door is opened to add wood or if the stove leaks.

Pollutants from wood burning

A wood fire may seem peaceful, romantic and harmless, but it releases smoke that contains over a hundred different toxic substances: 

  • Fine particles, inferior to a 2,5 micrometer diameter (PM2.5
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • Many irritants 


To cut down on air pollution from wood-fired devices, the City of Montréal has adopted a by-law which will take effect on 1 October 2018. The by-law prohibits the use on its territory of wood-fired devices that have not been certified by a recognized organization. The devices must be certified to have emission levels of no more than 2.5 grams/hour of fine particles.


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When to Consult

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Protection and prevention

What you can do to prevent problems or protect yourself

During a smog alert, it is strictly forbidden to use any type of wood-burning appliance except if the power goes out for more than 3 hours.

Suggested reading: 

Where to get additional reliable information 



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Risk factors

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Help and Resources

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People at Risk

Smoke from burning wood is bad for everyone's health. However, some people are especially sensitive to it: 

  • People with chronic heart or lung problems 
  • Their symptoms can worsen if they breathe in fine particles   
  • Older people
  • They suffer more often from chronic illnesses
  • Children
  • Their respiratory and immune systems are still developing                                      
  • Their respiration rate is higher, which means they could absorb more pollutants when the air is polluted   

Health effects

Pollutants in wood smoke increase the number of Montrealers affected by the following health problems:

  • Worsening asthma
  • Childhood bronchitis
  • Lung cancer

Smoke from burning wood also adds to air pollution, which causes over 1500 premature deaths each year in Montréal.


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Dernière mise à jour le : 2018.09.27