An endangered fireplace via Wikimedia Commons
Along with our old light bulbs and aerosol cans, culture practices near and dear to humans are going to have to change, if we're going to have any air worth breathing left. In China that means getting rid of inefficient old coal stoves, and in Montreal that means getting rid of wood-burning fireplaces.
Citing concerns for air quality and the health of its citizens, the largest city in the province of Quebec is poised to adopt a ban on fireplaces, effective at the end of 2020.
"Wood burning is a major source of fine particulate air pollution, meaning particles that penetrate into the lungs," Norman King, an epidemiologist at the Montreal Public Health Board told the CBC. "Studies have shown, when we extrapolate to the Montreal reality that close to 1,000 people per year die prematurely due to their chronic exposure to fine particulate air pollution," he said.
Fine particulates can get into the lungs and cause heart and respiratory problems, including asthma and lung cancer. The fine particulates of "black carbon" released by coal-burning stoves in China contribute to the horrendously smoggy days that have become somewhat of a national embarrassment. According to Montreal's CTV News, "a total of 41 of the 49 'bad-air days’ that the city of Montreal had in 2012 all happened during the winter, and the city of Montreal blames soot generated by stoves and fireplaces."
Montreal already had a ban on installing fireplaces in new construction, dating back to 2009, but about 50,000 homes in Montreal are still using wood-burning appliances. A provincial government program called "Feu vert" has offered $900 (Canadian) to replace them with natural gas or propane appliances, but the program ends this year, unless city officials get their way and it is extended.
Between the impending fireplace ban, and the grizzly bear's protected status that keeps it from being made into rugs, sexy French-Canadian fantasies are taking a real hit lately. Though to be fair, no one ever fantasizes about getting asthma.