Banning fireplaces? Parisian authorities prompt ire by declaring wood-burning a health hazard

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A ban on wood-burning fires in Paris has provoked such a backlash that even the French environment minister calls it "absurd."

Regional authorities decreed as of Jan. 1, no home in Paris or the surrounding region will be allowed to cozy up to a fireplace around blazing logs. Their argument: One French study showed nearly a quarter of the capital's air pollution comes from wood-burning fires.

The city's hundreds of chimney sweeps are questioning the data. Meriadec Aulaunier of the GCCP chimney sweep union argues that while chimneys dot the city's skyline, Parisians only use their fireplaces a few times a year — especially around the holidays.

Environment Minister Segolene Royal said Tuesday on France-2 television that she wants to change the decision — calling it "excessive" and "ridiculous."