Personally, I’m sick and tired of noisy leaf blowers disturbing the enjoyment of beautiful days. It has gotten to the point where one cannot keep their windows open or sit on the deck without these infernal things droning on and on well above any allowed or acceptable noise decibel. Furthermore, their exhaust fumes increases air pollution. And when they stir up dust, pollen, and mold spores, leaf blowers aggravate the allergies in those of us who suffer from such maladies.
Do I sound pissed? Yeah, I am. Apparently I am not alone, as a number of cities and towns have proposed or passed some sort of ordinance to limit the use of gas-powered leaf-blowers within their boundaries. Here are a few disturbing facts I learned about commercial grade, gas-powered leaf blowers:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, leaf blowers typically produce at least 90 decibels of noise – exposure two hours of such noise causes permanent hearing loss.
- Edmunds Automotive found a two-stroke commercial leaf-blower produces as many hydrocarbons emissions in 30 minutes as a F-150 pick-up truck does driving 3,887 miles!
- The Edmunds study also showed that a gas-powered leaf-blowers two-stroke engine emitted nearly 299 times the hydrocarbons of a pickup truck and 93 times the hydrocarbons of a sedan.
- A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entitled, National Emissions from Lawn and Garden Equipment, indicates that gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment is a prevalent source of toxic and carcinogenic emissions.
A number of cities across the country have banned or limited the use of commercial gas-powered leaf blowers (see list below). The first to do so were Carmel and Beverly Hills, California in the mid-1970s. Examples can now be found in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida, as well as many other communities in California.
While I don’t expect the EPA to do anything worthwhile under the current administration. Hopefully more cities, including Traverse City and Tucson, will join the list below, as these mechanical beasts, gas-powered ones in particular, are quite the menace to human health and peaceful enjoyment of our homes and communities. Peace.
- Arlington, MA
- Aspen, CO
- Belvedere, CA
- Berkeley, CA
- Beverly Hills, CA
- Boulder, CO
- Brookline, MA
- Cambridge, MA
- Carmel, CA (banned in 1975 – first city in the USA)
- Claremont, CA
- Del Mar, CA
- Dobbs Ferry, NY
- Evanston, IL
- Foster City, CA
- Framingham, MA
- Hastings, NY
- Honolulu, HI
- Houston, Texas
- Indian Wells, CA
- Key West, FL
- Laguna Beach, CA
- Lawndale, CA
- Los Altos, CA
- Los Gatos, CA – thank you, Rudy
- Los Angeles, CA
- Malibu, CA
- Mamaroneck, NY
- Maplewood, NJ
- Menlo Park, CA
- Mill Valley, CA
- Montclair, NJ
- New Rochelle, NY
- Oyster Bay, NY
- Palm Beach, FL
- Palo Alto, CA
- Pelham Manor, NY
- Pelham, NY
- Portland, OR
- Portsmouth, NH
- Rye, NY
- Santa Barbara, CA
- Santa Monica, CA
- Saratoga, CA – thank you, Rudy
- Scarsdale, NY
- Scottsdale, AR
- Sunnyvale, CA
- Tampa, FL
- Tiburon, CA
- Toronto, ON
- Vancouver, BC
- Westchester County, NY
- West Hollywood, CA
- White Plains, NY
- Winnetka, IL
- Yonkers, NY
I’d ban most leaf-blower use, as well as all the gas-powered ones. I see much waste and damage from the blowing itself, regardless of fuel source. People using them on wet leaves. Use where much topsoil is also blown away. People using them to clear snow off pavement and car roofs! One motive for their use is sheer laziness – with NO experimental verification that leaf-blowers take less time to do the job. Doing the job includes confining the chore to what must be done, minimizing collateral damage like topsoil loss or blowing leaves where you don’t actually want them. Another motivation is showing how macho the human operator is; unfortunately a lot of leaf-blowing is done by male employees from Latin-American cultural backgrounds which put big stock in machismo.
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This is good news. Personally I cannot stand these machines, and very often the material being blown goes to the “other side” – into someone else’s place!
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You don’t expect the current administration to do anything? You mean the Republicans? Well, friend, nothing was done during eight years of the previous Democratic administration either. Consider, local governments could take the initiative, muster public support, and ban leaf blowers yet apparently make up for their lack of political courage with endless rhetoric and virtue signaling.
I see we’re still on this topic, and will be for a long time. I won’t repeat myself. One really bad use of leaf-blowers is in my co-op, where janitors use leaf-blowers to clear snow from the exposed back stairwells and porches. Instead of just moving the snow downward to the sidewalk to be shoveled away, the leaf-blower send snow in all directions, so that it is plastered on our back doors and windows. This would happen even with electric blowers. This also sends exhaust from the gas-powered blower into our apartments via the cracks around the back door, since our buildings have continuous exhaust through bathroom vents. It snowed a little the other day, and I went out and used one of my cheap old ratty brooms to sweep the snow downward off the stairs and porches.
Why do you feel the need to take this article and make it political? What is your purpose in writing such argumentative commentary? Shouldn’t you help propose a solution to leaf blowers, provide helpful commentary, or insight into your actions regarding the topic? EPA regulations have been loosened by the current administration, which is an act that suggests that leaf blower bans would not be supported by the Administration.
Because I personally do not have the time to address this topic in my own town, the best action I have taken is to provide my maintenance crew with electric leaf blowers. Yes, it is still loud, produces floating debris, and uses another form of power. However, I get resistance from the crew if I hand them a rake – even if I’m raking with them! I am open to suggestions on how to influence my local government to use gas-powered alternatives to maintaining landscapes.
Do you happen to know if there are any flyers, info leaflets of health hazards printed in Spanish? The vast majority, if not all, of the workers in my area are not native English speakers, and many of them do not speak much English. It is a great disservice to them to not tell them, in their own language, what exactly they are risking. Thanks!
Good question. I haven’t seen any, but will look.
It is a beautiful day here in Falmouth Maine. We get so few this time of year. However I cannot go outside or open my windows because leaf blowers have shown up next door at the church. They have been there about 2 hours now and have done only about 25 feet and have probably another 150 feet to go. I think I’m gonna snap!!
I’m laughing right now when I saw that Honolulu has a limited use of commercial gas powered leaf blowers. I live in Honolulu (born and raised) and the use of leaf blowers is not just for the yard.. but people actually use the parts to soup up their mopeds. So it is an every day thing here. Why they do it? Who knows, but it smells and is loud as hell. Can you imagine a 400lbs. man on a small moped that sounds like a leaf blower? Yeah, let that sink in.. I live very close to an old folks home and they use a gas powered leaf blower EVERY SINGLE DAY. Twice on Fridays because their landscapers come by every week to do the same thing that they do every day… USE A LEAF BLOWER and gas powered weed whackers. Now, I don’t mind the landscapers coming every week. But this is a very small old folks home where the building can withstand a hurricane while the houses surrounding it all get demolished. Older homes in Hawaii are poorly designed than on the mainland, so you can hear everything that goes on outside with all windows and doors closed. I don’t know if any of you could stand living next to this place, let alone in Hawaii, where you get woken up on the weekends at 9 am to a leaf blower. I have complained to them for 6 years to only get a “we are very sorry for the noise…” but no resolution. My husband has tried to convince them to use an electric leaf blower or to limit the use to once a week only to be fallen on deaf ears. *Maybe the staff are getting old too* I remember when rakes and brooms where used to make your yard neat and clean. Now, we are in an age where laziness is taking over and the mere consideration of others are non existent. Hawaii is my home, but making a move to somewhere else off the mainland or to another country is looking better than staying here. By the way, I am also 6 months pregnant and the noise makes my child move around looking for cover , and the smell makes me sick to my stomach.
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Leaf blowers are rapidly becoming a real health issue. Hearing, respiratory, lung disease and allergies just the beginning. This will destroy communities.
I hate the sound all day long.
It is a scourge on society to live like this.
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I live in an apartment in Las Vegas where the gardeners were coming almost daily the leaf blower was just becoming unbearable. This is the desert… like how much gardening could there be. My 1yr old cried everytime time he came around our building and was inconsolable. And you can hear the leaf blower all day long. I complained to the office and they cut down on days which I’m grateful for. But with the way these apartments are… thin walls, single pane windows… even twice a week it sounds like the leaf blower is in your apartment. Honestly I think they’d get much further with a rake and broom. I’ve never experienced such annoyance in my life.
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I totally agree with you, especially living in the desert. I think a number of landscapers have gotten either lazy or see the leaf blowers as a way to get more jobs done in a single day. Either way it’s annoying to those of use who prefer listening to Mother Nature.
I live in an apartment complex in Irvine, CA and the leaf blower guy is out there Monday – Friday. The noise is deafening (it never stops!), he’s blowing debris and crap into the air for us to breathe, the toxic fumes are unbearable, and our cars are always covered in the crap he’s blowing around. These things should be banned for good. We can’t even open our windows because of the toxic gasoline fumes.
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I agree with you 100%. While I don’t live in an apartment, my neighbors or their lawn services are using them throughout the growing season. Leaf blowers are almost as bad in the fall, too.
Thank you for posting this and the links. Very helpful. I am initiating change on this very issue in my town. Its crept up on us and now its out of control.
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You are very welcome. Best wishes on success as we could use more limits on them here too. Please keep me updated on how it goes. Rick
I live in a mobile home area and my next door neighbor has a gas blower once a week for 3 hours on a 15 foot yard . What can I do to get the laws changed . Where do I start. I can’t take it anymore .
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Perhaps contact the local planning office or the mobile home park”s management office.
City of Rancho Cucamonga is three a banned
What restrictions are in place in Portland Oregon? My neighbor’s landscape crew uses 3 at a time on occasion. As much as I’d like to see a complete ban on gas powered leaf blowers because of senseless noise and pollution it seems like rakes and brooms are sadly out of fashion.
A couple of things, including a favor needed from you 🙂
First, you can add Los Gatos and Saratoga in California to the list above.
Second, I have a question and need your input. I am about to launch an all-electric yard care business to take back our yards and gardens from the scourge of gas-powered equipment. All work will be done with electric (and manual, where possible) equipment, and my crews will depart from the sector’s normal high-volume model and service a relatively smaller number of residential and commercial properties daily (the aim is more time, care and quality at each address). I have a question for you: How much would you be willing to pay (extra) for this service at your homes? We are currently thinking approx. $180 per month (for a once-per-week service), but we are competing with folks who do similar work (with gas equipment) and charge $120, $130, $140 per month. Would you be willing to pay $180 or thereabouts, knowing that the service you hire is run responsibly (clean equipment, living wage, group health insurance, bonded/insured, biz license, etc.)? I will also have a line of business that provides business ownership opportunities to my employees through an optional franchise model that will be available to them. Would you be willing to pay $180 for this service, and how high would you be willing to go beyond $180 for this service to, say, an average suburban home (~7,000-8,000 square foot lot)? I’m trying to figure out pricing and whether the market would actually support a 25%-30% premium over my competitors…or is this service entirely too commoditized in your mind to warrant premium pricing?
Thank you for the information on Saratoga and Los Gatos. Regarding the prices, I imagine it would partially depend on geographic location, as to whether those prices would be sustainable.
Thank you. We’ll likely start out in the towns and cities in the San Francisco Bay Area that have introduced gas leaf blower ordinances, but we may include San Jose and other South Bay communities, too, simply due to the size of the metroplex and its relative affluence that may (or may not be willing to) support this price point.
I would welcome additional feedback.
Everything now done with a leaf-blower was done with human-powered tools before leaf-blowers were invented. Using electricity to power a leaf-blower does not prevent any of the ecological damage done by a leaf-blower per se. A person who is totally deaf can observe this ecological damage. Ecologically responsible people will neither allow the use of a leaf-blower in “yard care” nor offer such. Leaf-blower use should be legally restricted to man-made pavement, and banned for use to clear snow (we have snow-blowers for this as needed).
Haha! All Democratic-run states. Glad I live in a FREE state!
The authors of this article is such a pussy