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on human health


Liters of air consumed per adult each day


Annual health costs of a certified wood stove


Premature deaths in Quebec per year


Increase in death for every 10 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5

If you are pregnant or have a respiratory or cardiovascular disease, have children or live with elders, wood smoke can have dangerous effects on your health or your loved ones and have serious long-term consequences.

Fine particles, called PM2.5, are the air pollutant that has the most significant impact on human health overall. These particles are small in size, measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, which allows them to penetrate deep into the airways when inhaled. This characteristic makes them particularly dangerous to health, especially that of children.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of PM2.5 due to their developing respiratory systems and higher respiration rate compared to adults. When they breathe air polluted with PM2.5, these particles can cause a range of health problems, such as the aggravation or onset of asthma, allergies, respiratory disorders and cardiovascular problems.

Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can have long-term consequences on the health and development of children. Current data from science now suggests a link between long-term exposure to fine particles and impacts on growth. Recent research also suggests a link with certain neurological problems but it is still too early to draw conclusions. 

"The data is clear: air pollution has a devastating impact on children's health"


PM2.5: overwhelming data on health effects

Health Canada recently conducted a new systematic literature review to assess the impact of PM2.5 on mortality and morbidity. The results of this review are consistent with the first study of its kind conducted a decade earlier and the updated findings tend to demonstrate a greater strength of causation for several types of health effects.

In the short term, high exposure to PM2.5 can lead to exacerbation of existing respiratory problems, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Long-term health effects of PM2.5 can also include the development of cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and certain types of cancer. 

"There is strong and consistent evidence from epidemiological studies to support a causal relationship between short-term exposure to PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular disease-related morbidity and mortality." 

- Health Canada

The socio-economic burden of PM2.5-related excess mortality

In addition to the direct consequences on health, the excess mortality linked to PM2.5 generates a very significant socio-economic burden. According to estimates, the socio-economic burden specifically linked to wood heating in Quebec amounts to an alarming amount of 11 billion dollars (18 billion in Canada).

Compared to other Canadian public health issues, the socio-economic costs related to wood heating are disproportionate and require more intervention from public health authorities.

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Urgent action to reduce air pollution caused by wood burning is imperative to protect the health of children and the general population.


Families for Clean Air is committed to raising awareness, promoting effective environmental policies, and working collaboratively to create a healthier, more sustainable environment for all.

Heating with wood: the elephant in the room

A study still warm published in February 2023 by Health Canada sheds a harsh light on the problem of wood heating in Quebec. Contrary to what one might have intuitively thought, premature deaths caused by air pollution from the transport and industrial sectors combined are lower than premature deaths caused by wood burning.

Many organizations specifically address the pollution caused by the residential use of fossil fuels for cooking or heating, but this sector would have caused very little premature mortality compared to wood heating. If we really want to tackle the general problem of air quality in Quebec, wood heating cannot continue to be ignored. 

According to our calculations, the sectoral data by province also show that wood heating in Quebec would be responsible for an appalling 22% of all PM2.5 emissions from the sectors studied across the country.

Premature deaths caused by air pollution - Quebec (2015)
“We don't inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.”

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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