Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Air pollution and wood burning: the case of Montreal
The debate in Montreal on whether to use wood-burning stoves or not continues. The fact of the matter is that wood-burning stoves not only contributes to smog alerts in the city, it is hazardous to health and the environment. Forget about the romantic feel of wood burning in the fire; burning wood releases a cocktail of toxins in particular one called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a known carcinogen. In industry, PAH emissions are highly regulated due to their known cancer risk, and therefore environment, health and safety standards are strictly applied. It is easy for governments to regulate a specific point source, such as iron and steel foundaries, but less easy to regulate a whole city and individual citizens. Action is required if the City of Montreal is serious about reducing smog alert days. Industry is taking action and therefore citizens should be doing the same.