MONTREAL -- Montreal businesses – like our famous bagel shops – will continue to be able to bake their goods in wood fire ovens as long as the smoke that escapes from their chimneys meets the city’s strict standards.

Officials say they will be revising the city’s air contaminant emissions regulations in 2020, putting a particular spotlight on wood burning and its role in contributing to winter smog.

This comes after Montreal's public health department called on the city to take action against air pollution from wood-burning stoves in pizzerias and bagel shops.

The department found that three per cent of fine particle emissions in Montreal came from commercial wood-burning stoves.

Last summer, both St-Viateur Bagel and Portuguese chicken restaurant Ma Poule Mouillée said they have already installed expensive filters to reduce particles emitted from wood stoves.

Montreal banned the use of residential wood-burning appliances in 2018.

“Wood burning is one of the main causes of wintertime smog,” the city stated.

According to officials, it causes about 39 per cent of fine particle emissions, coming second only to transportation, at 45 per cent.

“In addition to the impact on the environment and air quality, pollutants from burning wood can adversely affect health and aggravate asthma, childhood bronchitis and lung cancer, and may even hasten death for persons suffering from chronic heart or respiratory disease,” Montreal’s environment department argued.

“The World Health Organization clearly established in 2013 that fine particles resulting from wood burning were carcinogenic.”

Last year, residential owners of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces were asked to declare their appliances. Only those that emitted no more than 2.5 g per hour of fine particles into the air were permitted for use.

There is one exception though: wood-burning appliances can be used during power outages that last longer than three hours.

Anyone who breaks the bylaw is subject to a hefty fine, ranging in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Electrical appliances, or those that burn propane gas, natural gas or pellets, are still allowed.

Last year, there were 41 poor air quality days recorded by city officials, with six of them declared smog days.

However, the city adds the number of smog days has gradually decreased since 2013.