02/11/2013 05:38 EST | Updated 04/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Wood stove pollution program gains province-wide support

About 140 Quebec municipalities are chipping in to help exchange old wood stoves for more eco-friendly models.

The program, run by the Quebec Association against Atmospheric Pollution (AQLPA) and partially funded by the provincial government, offers homeowners up to $600 to replace their old stoves with more efficient models that meet environmental standards.

Municipalities across the province are now pitching in $100 of that cost.

Since the project was launched last year, 3,500 Quebecers have traded in their old stoves.

André Bélisle, president of the AQLPA, said reducing the number of old wood stoves is an important step in reducing smog. He said air pollution can be a real danger for people with respiratory issues.

The filters in new wood stoves reduce the emission of fine particles by about 70 per cent.

Marc-Antoine Cantin is the president of the Association of Heating Professionals, an organization that also contributes funding to the program.

He said the difference between the new stoves and the old models can be compared to the emissions from a Prius car versus a Model T Ford.

Aside from the environmental benefits, Cantin said the new stoves also cost less to run.

The program has been most successful in the Quebec City and Montérégie regions, according to Bélisle.

A similar program on the island of Montreal, run by the organization, Équiterre, is set to expire in March.