Wood Burning

In the fall and winter, many Ottawa residents burn wood as a primary or additional heat source for their homes. Wood burning creates pollution and steps should be taken to burn wood safely in order to reduce the quantity of smoke both inside and outside the home.

Wood smoke is one of the largest pollutants affecting air quality in Ottawa. Smoke moves easily in the outside air and is drawn indoors where it can build up inside the home. We spend 85 per cent of our time indoors during the winter months so it is important that our indoor air is clean. Young children, the elderly and the chronically ill are most vulnerable to the affects of wood smoke. They are also most likely to spend more time indoors during the winter.

Although many people enjoy the smell of wood burning, the smoke contains chemicals and contaminants that are not healthy for us or for our environment. Well-documented health effects associated with wood smoke include respiratory infections and irritations, the onset of asthma, and, in rare cases, deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

To help protect your health and the health of your family and neighbours:

  • Replace older wood burning equipment with new, high-efficiency and low-emission appliances.
  • Look for a wood stove that has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and certified by the Canadian Standards Association.
  • Start your fire with newspaper and dry kindling.
  • Burn only clean, dry and well-seasoned wood and newsprint.
  • Never burn garbage and products such as cardboard, which contains chemicals that end up in our lungs.
  • Keep fires small and hot. Smouldering fires create more smoke.
  • Install smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

For more information, please contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or visit the Environment Canada web site.

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