We’ve all encountered the seriously overwhelming challenge of clearing tons of leaves from our yard, avoiding back-breaking raking for more convenient options, like leaf blowers.
But—and this is a biggie—you may not be aware of the detrimental impact gas-powered leaf blowers have on the environment—so much so that some states are looking to enact bans on the product.
If this is you, read on. Here’s the issue with gas-powered leaf blowers, and what to do about it.
The case for quitting gas-powered leaf blowers
More than 100 cities and towns have put a gas powered leaf blower ban into place. The California Air Resources Board recently announced a gas-powered leaf blower ban to be enacted by 2024, pointing to shocking statistics, like one hour of leaf blowing is the equivalent in emissions of driving 1,100 miles in a car. This exacerbates climate change.
A spokesperson from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation explains the issue is these engines’ emissions contain hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter.
“The close proximity between the operator and the equipment makes these pollutants especially concerning,” they said. “Furthermore, gas-powered leaf blowers are not generally sold with the emissions control technologies that come standard in other gas-powered vehicles, like passenger cars.”
The problem lies in the two-cycle engine itself, which has been updated in newer cars but not in leaf blowers
Then there’s the issue of noise—not only for your own ears, but also for nearby animals.
Non-profit animal advocacy group Friends of Animals writes, “Always irritating, the noise from a gas blower, which typically reaches 65 to 80 decibels at 50 feet away, can cause hearing issues such as tinnitus after just two hours.”
Some of the most powerful ones exceed 112 decibels, which can cause hearing damage in just one minute, they add.
Gas-powered lawn equipment like leaf blowers and lawn mowers may produce more ozone pollution than all the millions of cars in California combined.