This is a summary from the city of recommendations on leaf blowers and using them. Also contains a link to a PDF with more details.
Two- stroke engines are noisy, exacerbate health problems, cause pollution. We can ban or restrict them, we're hardly the first city to do so.
Katie Wilson, Crosscut, Nov. 2019
Even back in 2013, the city gets a host of complaints and is motivated to look into the issue.
Erik Lacitis, Seattle Times, Nov. 2013
Advocates to ban leaf blowers in Seattle.
Seattle Indivisible, Dec. 2019
Here is a sampling of what some cities have done to address leaf blower issues. It is by no means complete and, as things change over time, may not be accurate. However, it is useful to see what works in some places.
Studio City Neighborhood Council, LA.
Gas Leaf Blowers: Illegal and Harmful To Our Environment (PSA)
KESQ TV, Palm Springs - report on city's decision to ban gas leaf blowers
Palm Springs Leaf Blowers Ban
California aims for zero emissions on leaf blowers by 2022.
Reason.com, Jan. 2020
Sanibel, Florida restricts usage of gas powered leaf blowers.
NBC, Jan. 2020
Switching to electric leaf blowers doesn't result in higher bills from landscapers.
Dear Huntington CALM,
I am a current member [redacted] of the Yonkers Green City Advisory Committee, the mayoral committee which proposes and advises on environmental legislation and initiatives for Yonkers, the fourth largest city in New York State. Originally constituted in 2007 as the Green Policy Task Force, the GPTF undertook as one of its first initiatives the passing of a city-wide Leaf Blower Ordinance that prohibits the use of gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer months. The ordinance has been in place since then and enforcement of the ordinance has grown on an annual basis.
Here is a link to the Yonkers city website that alerts the public to the ban:
The Yonkers Code Enforcement department is responsible for enforcing the ordinance and the department takes its responsibility very seriously. I would not be willing to say that enforcement is 100% successful, as without doubt there are landscapers who continue to defy the city rules when given the opportunity; but complaint calls to the city hotline have increased as homeowners become increasingly aware that they have an avenue through which to report violators, and the landscapers themselves are becoming more compliant with each passing season. The number of tickets for violations also continues to increase on an annual basis.
I understand that a major concern in Huntington is the potential for fee increases by landscapers in response to a proposed ban. That’s
a common tactic by landscapers in all communities. However, our city officials, including elected officials, have not reported back to the
YGCAC that residents have been assessed with higher fees, nor have we received complaints of this nature through the city hotline.
If landscapers do the math, they will realize that the purchase of battery-powered leaf blowers for use in the summer months will cost
them no more than the continuing purchase of gasoline for their gas-powered blowers. This is a good piece of information to point out
to them and to your Aldermen.
Best of luck with your efforts to preserve the health and well-being of your community. Feel free to contact me [redacted] if I can be of further assistance.
Huntington-Oyster Bay Audobon Society, Huntington NY
Request to restrict use of gas leaf blowers in Huntington during the wramer months of the year.
Dear Members of the Huntington Conservation Board:
Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon support restrictions on the use of Gas Leaf Blowers in the Town of Huntington for warmer months of the year, from approximately Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Some of the reasons for banning:
1. They're noisy. A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels (60dB). Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 dB. According to the U.S. EPA this level of noise actually degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure.
2. They worsen allergies and asthma and irritate the lungs. Because they operate at such high velocities, leaf blowers stir up the mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with rain and decomposition.
3. They waste gas. Rakes and even electric-lawn blowers offer a petroleum-free alternative.
Many communities across America have recognized these issues and put some basic limits on the use of leaf blowers. Therefore we respectfully request that the town of Huntington follow their lead and place restrictions on the use of leaf blowers during the months when many people are outdoors trying to enjoy their yards, streets or parks.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter.
Stella M., President
Recommendation that schools refrain from using gas leaf blowers.
Snoma Valley Unified School District, June 2016
To Whom It May Concern:
This past fall, a group of concerned parents brought several studies to my attention about the serious health risks posed by exposure to emissions, airborne particulate matter, and noise generated by gasoline powered leaf blowers.
In response, we immediately curbed leaf blower use, hired an outside consultant to conduct research, and queried other school districts. I brought the head of maintenance and operations into the discussion, and looked at budgetary restraints and landscaping needs.
Our consultant reviewed the evidence, including testimony from medical associations and physicians, as well as Grand Jury Reports from Orange and San Luis Obispo Counties that recommended schools refrain from using gas leaf blowers.
When we weighed our needs and constraints with what the latest research stated about the risks associated with inhaling fine particulate matter and exhaust from two-stroke engines, as well as the negative impact of excessive noise on children, we concluded that eliminating gas-powered blowers was necessary and feasible.
We stipulated that electric leaf blowers be used only as needed, never when students are present, and not within half hour of their arrival. We had the full cooperation of our maintenance staff, who purchased electric blowers and re-trained staff.
I am proud to say we accomplished this in just a few months.
This decision reflects the Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s commitment to fostering the health and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff while providing an atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning.
Louann C., Snoma Valley Unified School District
Washington DC: A summary of how the process turned out.
The Atlantic, Mar. 2019
Larchmont NY: full ban during summer months, restricted during rest of year.Village of Larchmont - summary of ordinance
Tiburon, CA: 2010 ruling upheld, gas leaf blowers prohibited in residential areas.
Berkeley, CA: gas leaf blowers banned within city limits.
Los Angeles, CA: gas leaf blowers banned within 500 feet of any residence.
Evanston, IL: gas leaf blowers banned during summer and winter.
White Plains, NY: gas leaf blowers allowed only 2 months in spring, 2 months in fall.
Westchester County, NY: various cities ban gas leaf blowers in summer.
Here's Portland's website, Quiet Clean PDX. The site is full of excellent information and references. Also, a good cartoon on the "About" page. Portland now has some leaf blower regulation - see the "Take Action" page.
ZAPLA encourages compliance with leaf blower bans and restrictions by providing facts, opinions, and access to sources and to resources for the Los Angeles area.
An excellent, comprehensive examination of the gas leaf blower issue from Jim Fallows, National Correspondent for the Atlantic magazine in Washington D.C.
The Atlantic, Feb. 2018
Whether you’re a Mayor, Director of Public Works, or a City Council Member, a Supervisor of a national land care maintenance franchise, a small lawn & garden crew, or a DIY homeowner — AGZA can help you kick gas off your grass!
Bay Area, L.A.
Quiet Communities: runs educational, outrreach, research programs.Home page
Noise Free America: a coalition to promote quiet. This is an execellent across-the-board reference on sources of noise, effects of noise, and links to ask questions to experts.Home page
Huntington C.A.L.M. Aims to move the commercial landscape industry to zero emmision, quiet, sustainable practices.Home page
Quiet Clean D.C. Working with various stakeholders to shift to quiet, clean, sustainable yard care.Home page
Covid-19: leaf blower fine particulate matter is increasing risk of death, especially for workers.
Quiet Communities, Apr. 2020
Covid-19: while people are self-quarantined, leaf blower noise is rattling nerves and creating concern about helping spread the virus.
New York Times, Apr. 2020
Explains testing a car and a truck on a lab grade emissions dyno and comparing the results to both a 2 stroke and 4 stroke leaf blower.
Edmunds, Dec. 2011
Emission test: car vs truck vs leaf blower
Expains what kind of partcles and toxins are kicked up by leaf blowers and how they contribute significantly to air pollution.
zapla.org, Jan. 2009
Leaf Blower Pollution
Graphic explanation of how leaf blowers damange hearing, with a push to switch to electric leaf blowers.
James Fallows, The Atlantic, Apr. 2019
The 'Public Health Menace' of Fall in America
Doctors in the Mount Sanai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty unit request restrictions on leaf blowers and other equipment.
Eastchester Town Hall
Dear Eastchester Town Board Members,
Re: Medical Grounds for a Restriction on Internal Combustion Power Tools and Leaf Blowers
We are writing in support of Eastchester Environmental Committee Resolution 2010-1 supporting a limit on the use of internal combustion power tools and a ban on the use of leaf blowers between May 15th and September 15th in the Town of Eastchester. Such an action in parallel with many other communities that already have restrictions in place in Weschester Counter, could improve the health of the residents of the Town of Eastchester, and in particular, the respiratory status of children.
We are pediatricians, industrial hygienists, and a social worker, and we are writing this letter on health effects associated with gasoline powered leaf blowers on behalf of the Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU).
The Mount Sinai PEHSU is a medical resource in environmental pediatrics for children, parents, pediatricians, health care providers, schools, government agencies and community organizations. We provide diagnostic and treatment services to children who have disease of environmental origin or who have suffered toxic environmental exposures.
We also have the mission of providing trustworthy, scientifically credible information about environmental health threats to parents, teachers, elected officials and policy makers to enable well informed decisions on behalf of our children. We are supported by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are established by CDC as a resource for federal Region II, which include New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Our unit is one of only eleven such units in the country.
Internal combustion power tools and leaf blowers ("equipment") pose multiple hazards to human health. Children are the most susceptible members of population to these hazards because they breathe more air per pound of body weight per day than adults and thus inhale more of any pollutants that are thrown into the air by this equipment. Children's vulnerability to the health effects of this equipment is further magnified by the fact that they are passing through the stages of early development, and thus their lungs, ears, eyes, and other organ systems are inherently more sensitive to environmental hazards than the organs of adults. The hazards associated with leaf blowers and some internal combustion power tools include:
1. Airborne pollutants. Leaf blowers create large volumes of airborne particulates, many of which are respirable. Inhalation of these small airborne particles can provoke asthma and other respiratory diseases in children and can increase the severity of chronic lung disease in our elderly. Some of the other potential pollutants from leaf blowers and internal combustion power tools are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and, even, ozone formed from some of these other pollutants. Even lower level exposures have been associated with respiratory and central nervous system effects. These types of exposures would vary based on weather, wind, use or nonuse of protective gear and type of machine used. In general, children are more vulnerable to such exposures because they breathe faster, are rarely wearing protective equipment, are closer to the ground, and have still developing organs.
2. Noise. Noise is a second hazard associated with much of this equipment. Manufacturer estimates of noise levels from leaf blowers for bystanders 50 feet aware are about 70dB and, of course, the noise is louder if residents are closer. The World Health Organization recommends general daytime outdoor noise levels of 55 dB or less. Noise may affect quality of life by impairing communication, reducing accuracy of complex tasks, and increasing stress. The intense, high frequency noise that leaf blowers generate can cause loss of hearing in the workers who operate these machines and can also affect hearing in children and other persons. The ears of infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the high intensity noise that leaf blowers produce because their auditory systems are undergoing rapid growth and development, and these developmental processes are easily disrupted.
3. Eye hazards. Because of the high energy they generate, leaf blowers can propel pebbles and small sticks many feet into the air to cause serious eye injury. Workers and young children are the most vulnerable.
For all of these medical reasons, and especially to protect our children, we urge you to take action to restrict the use of leaf blowers to 9 months of the year and to limit the use of internal combustion power tools to specified times of the day in the Town of Eastchester.
Perry S., MD
Maida G., MD, MPH
Philip L., MD, MSc
Joel F., MD
Amir M., MD
Angkana R., MD
Bambi F., LCSW
Alice F., CIH
Norman Z., CIH
South Coast Air Qualtity Management District
Letter regarding the benefits achieved by making Garfield Park, in South Pasadena CA, a "Green Zone".
To Whom it Concerns:
I’m [redacted] of the City of South Pasadena, California. Currently I [redacted] am on the Board of Governors for the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). In keeping with our pledge to become a more sustainable city we worked with SCAQMD and the American Green Zone Alliance
(AGZA) to transition our municipal grounds maintenance from fossil fuel to cordless battery , manual, and ecologically friendly horticultural practices.
This transition reduced noise and air pollution, while improving health, and generating cost savings. AGZA’s strategic partner, Quiet Communities (Lincoln, MA) is using the lessons learned from our success to replicate the process in other parts of the country.
Garfield Park resides on ten acres within a densely populated residential neighborhood. It has 2 tennis courts, a playground, picnic areas, and paved walkways. Approximately half of the area is grass. Over the years we received many complaints about the noise and air pollution generated from gas-powered maintenance.
Last February, after much anticipation, federal , state and local officials, along with residents attended an official ceremony celebrating the establisment of the first municipal park in the country to become an AGZA-certified “Green Zone™”. Green Zone means that it has to be maintained 100 percent gas- and emissions-free. A plaque was proudly dedicated ,designating the park an official Green Zone.
AGZA and the SCAQMD worked with the city to assess needs, create a tactical plan, conduct a beta test of battery equipment, and train and certify workers. Following the success of the beta, Tru-Green Land Care received the contract to maintain the park after replacing all gas equipment (1, 60”diesel zero turn riding mower; 3, gas leaf
blowers; 2 line trimmers, 2 edgers, and 1 hedge trimmer) with battery operated counterparts.
On an annual basis, the outcomes of the Garfield Park Green Zone are estimated as follows:
Exhaust emissions eliminated: 80,000 pounds
Gas and oil consumption eliminated: 250+ gallons
Gas and oil costs avoided: $900+
Noise pollution reduction: 50%
Solid waste eliminated: 20−30lbs
Toxic waste eliminated: 40+ gallons
We plan to substantially expand Green Zoning to other municipal and school properties due to the overwhelming success and support the park has received. I strongly recommend and encourage other municipalities and towns to work with AGZA and Quiet Communities to create your own Green Zones. It will be one of the best decisions you will make. Families, joggers, bike riders, picnickers and others now enjoy quiet, and fresh air. The park has become a haven for residents rather than a source of complaints.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Michael C., Council Member
Doctor, can you please remove my cochlear implant ? The noise from gas leaf blowers is deafening !
To the Huntington Town Council Members,
As you are well aware, the problems caused by Gas Leaf Blowers (GLBs) extend far beyond our community.
I have been profoundly deaf in both ears since early adolescents and am now 70 years old and retired. I could not hear a television, an alarm clock, or ambulance siren. Conversations with my children, family and friends required powerful hearing aids and lip reading. Life changed with my cochlear implant. I can hear birds, neighbour’s children playing, and participate in clearly understood conversations. I also hear the excessive noise of overused GLBs.
Throughout the summer months, landscapers use their GLBs to blow dirt and grass clippings at decibel levels that force me to turn off my cochlear processor that is specifically programmed for my hearing requirements. During these hours, my activities are limited. I am unable to communicate, develop anxiety and actually FEEL HANDICAPPED!
Friends of mine who are visually impaired say they are startled by the sudden explosive noise of GLBs and cannot cross a street because they cannot hear approaching cars. Those with mobility limitations cannot quickly escape the dirt and other pollutants that physically assault them.
I am a member of the Town of Huntington Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the Hearing Loss Association of America, The Cochlear Community, and a supporter of Huntington CALM’s efforts to restrict the use of GLBs.
I strongly urge you to place appropriate restrictions on GLBs for the health of ALL our citizens.
After a three month temporary ban in Great Neck, NY, people noticed it was more enjoyable to be outside. This resulted in a permanent ban of leaf blowers during summer months.
Great Neck Record
An Opinion: Leafblowers
Written by Susan C., Great Neck Estates Environmental Conservation Comission
A recent segment on the Charles Osgood show (Sunday morning CBS) explored leaf blowers and the people/communities from Connecticut to California who are finding their noise obnoxious and intrusive. I found the segment fascinating. It caused me to reflect back upon the time 14 years ago before Great Neck Estates had a leaf blower law in effect.
I have been a member of the Great Neck Estates Environmental Conservation Copmmission for 20 plus years. In 1996, we decided to tackle the leaf blower noise and pollution problem. In orer to confront the Trustees and Board, we first collected our facts. We spent hours on the phone locating other communities across the United States that had leaf blower restrictions in effect (time consuming, pre computer days). We requested copies of their laws.
We researched all the relevant health data that we could find, and found plenty - damage to hearing, autnomic nervous system stress (increases in blood pressure and heart rate), higher ozone and carbon monoxide levels in the air, as well as lung damaging particulate matter, herbicides, pesticides, rodent feces, higher pollen, volatile organic compounds, nitrous and sulphur dioxide levels. Think asthma, COPD, bronchitis, allergies, etc.
As the entire community would have to vote to enact a new law, public hearings had to be scheduled. Local landscaper associations got "wind" of what we were proposing and went to work petitioning their customers with doomsday predictions about skyrocketing costs, less pristine properties, and refusing to work in Great Neck Estates.
We attended community meetings with the Nassau Suffolk Landscape Association and their attorneys. It got a little ugly upon occasion. I was threated physically and warned to "butt out". Our trustees scheduled a test in GNE park, to allow the Landscapers Association to demonstrate their "new quiet" blowers. ("quiet" was quite an exaggeration.)
But we had more hurdles to cross. It was suggested that we get a petition with resident signatures. We decided to ask for a three month trial ban, after which the cummunity could decide on a permanent law. We got enough signatures to enact a trial ban on blowers.
As the peaceful, quiet summer stretched out, something happened. People began to notice that it was more enjoyable to be outside, whether walking a dog, sittingin the backyard, entertaining, barbecuing, letting kids play outdoors. The streets didn't look any messier or less pristine than before. And no one got higher gardening bills. At summer's end, we created a survey to evaluate residents' opinions. Resident opposition seemed to evaporate, and a permanaent leaf blower restriction was voted into effect.
Apparently other communities were watching what would happen in our Village. As soon as we passed our law banning gasoline powered blowers from June 15 through Sept 15, Thomaston and Russel Gardens followed suit, and passed leaf blower restrictions. May Newburger, then North Hempstead Town supervisor, wanted to pass a leaf blower ban for all of North Hempstead, but, alas, it didn't happen.
The comment over the years have only been positive, with residents asking why blowers aren't banned for even longer than the current three month time frime? I can only apologize and say that we just didn't realize. The hurdles we had to cross loomed so large, and seemed impassable. In retrospect, we shoul dhave requested a ban that began May 1, as spring clean-ups are all finished by that date. We could not have known how popular, and ahead of its time, our crusade would prove to be. In light of even more compelling health data, and so many other communities seeking the same respite from noise and polution, I wonder if the time has come to revisit this issue for all of Great Neck?
Letter from Doctors Council SEIU to Astoria, NY city council, advocating to ban leaf blowers during the summer months.
Dear Council Member Constantinides,
Doctors Council SEIU supports Intro 59-2014 regulating the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in New York. Noise pollution is one of New York City’s most common problems, and legislation aimed at addressing this challenge can benefit all New Yorkers.
It is commonly known that exposure to loud noises over long periods of time can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the effects of noise induced hearing loss can limit one’s ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech and seriously impair one’s ability to communicate.
As the union representing doctors in public hospitals and City agencies, we are concerned about additional health hazards that go hand-in-hand with the excessive use gas-powered leaf blowers. We believe that the regulation should be taken a step further to address air quality issues. The bill currently proposes that gas-powered leaf blowers be banned during the summer if they do not have a proper muffler, but we feel that gaspowered leaf blowers should be banned altogether during the summer months.
Gas emissions generated by leaf blowers are hazardous to public health. Banning the use of mechanically powered blowers between June and September would certainly help reduce the level of ozone that New Yorkers are exposed to. Decreased ozone levels could help mitigate asthma attacks, lung disease and heart problems.
The California Air Resources Board found that compared to an average large car, one hour of operation of a gas-powered leaf blower emits 498 times as much hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter and 26 times as much carbon monoxide. The EPA has found that particulate matter has been linked to a wide variety of adverse health effects that have been shown to contribute to premature deaths.
Various health advocacy groups agree that this issue needs greater attention from a public health perspective. The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center has stated that children are the most susceptible to the hazards from gas-powered leaf blower emissions. Those with asthma, as well as other chronic respiratory diseases, suffer disproportionately from poor air quality: children are more likely to spend time outside; they are closer to the ground; and have higher respiratory rates than adults thus inhaling more air relative to their body size. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with this assessment.
Several municipalities across the U.S. have instituted summer bans including nearby towns like White Plains, Yonkers and Maplewood, NJ, as well as major cities like Los Angeles that have banned gaspowered leaf blowers year round.
We hope that in addition to noise levels, you will consider the overall health implications when reviewing this bill.
Thank you for your attention to this issue.
Frank P., MD
American Academy of Pediatrics, New York Chapter 2
Gasoline leaf blowers create significant health risks for children, including hearing loss, asthma, and allergies.
Please educate your patients and their families about the significant health risks associated with Gasoline Leaf Blowers (GLBs).
GLB emissions worsen Ozone levels and produce airborne cancer agents. Airborne particulates are inhaled, negatively affecting the respiratory system. Those with asthma and COPD suffer greatly.
Children are the most susceptible. They breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. They are closer to the ground, spend more time outdoors in the Summer; thus inhaling more pollutants spewed by GLBs. Children’s vulnerability is further magnified by the fact that their lungs, ears, eyes, and other organs are still developing making them more sensitive to environmental hazards.
The intense, high-frequency noise generated by GLBs can cause hearing loss in children. Infants and young children are especially susceptible to high intensity noises due to rapid growth and development of the auditory system. Serious eye injury may also result as GLBs propel small objects many feet into the air.
The risks are summarized on the enclosed fact sheet, and include the exacerbation of asthma and allergies, as well as other effects on humans, pets, and the environment from air pollution, noise, and eye dangers.
We hope you will sign the enclosed petition and ask your patients and their families to sign. We are requesting the Town of Huntington to join 16 towns in Westchester County and over 400 municipalities across the country that have restricted GLBs. We are petitioning the town to restrict their use from May 15 - September 30.
In the towns that have limited GLBs, landscapers have not suffered income hardships or worker layoffs. In fact, money has been saved on fuel, tune-ups and equipment. Rakes, brooms, or electric leaf blowers have proven excellent and healthier alternatives.
Please contact me with questions or if you would like any additional information. Thank you for caring about the health of Huntington’s children and their families.
Lucy W., MD, MPH
member Committee on Environmental Health Academy of Pediatrics
To the Huntington NY Conservation Board, to request a leaf blower ordinance for the city.
American Lung Association, New York, Dec. 2013
Huntington Town Hall
Dear Board Members:
On behalf of the American Lung Association in New York, we write in support of enacting a leaf blower ordinance for the Town of Huntington.
We have supported similar local restrictions on the use of leaf blowers because there will be some very real health benefits that will accrue if leaf blower restrictions are enacted into law. Equipment that has zero-emissions (rakes and brooms and electrically powered tools) is the healthier way to go. There are many
reasons why no-emissions technologies are best.
First, air quality in our region is rather unhealthful. Our annual report, State of the Air 2013,1 finds that ozone air pollution in Suffolk County fails our clean air test. In fact, Suffolk County had the most unhealthy levels of ozone pollution in all of the state. Additionally, the United States Environmental Protection has declared that
Westchester County is “out of attainment” for the federal ozone2 and fine particle3 health standards.
Second, small sources of emissions can add up to be big polluters. As you may know, one of the arguments against controlling small engines is that they are just that, small. However, studies have shown that a lawnmower running for an hour could emit the same amount of smog forming emission as that you would emit by driving a car for 8 hours. Multiply this statistic with the number of engines in your area and you have a better idea of the contribution these small engines can make to our region’s poor air quality. These small sources continue to become a bigger percentage of the pollution pie as stringent emission limits are applied to other tailpipes and to smokestacks.
Third, small engines do not have the sophisticated pollution control devices as a passenger vehicle has. Thus, the level of pollution they belch out can be quite high.
For gasoline powered-equipment, the emissions can cause or worsen ozone levels and also increase the amount of airborne cancer agents. Gasoline has many cancer
agents in it and these engines have no real emissions controls on them. In addition, small engines that use two-stroke technology, where the gasoline and oil
are mixed are particularly big polluters. About thirty-percent of the fuel poured into these engines is directly emitted in the exhaust.
Finally, states are limited by federal law as to what they can do to address the emissions from small engines. Up until 2003, federal clean air laws provided states
with the right to copy the California emission standards for small engines, which traditionally have been better than the ones that the US EPA has set. The law was changed by Congress to bar states from replicating the California emission standards for lawn and garden equipment. So we are at the mercy of the US EPA
standard setting process when it comes to establishing emissions limits. The options for states or local governments in New York are these:
Restrict the use of small engines; and,
Ban the use of equipment that runs on small engines.
We wish there were more choices at our disposal to deal with this very important public health issue. Given limited options, the American Lung Association in New
York is pleased to support local ordinances which limit the use of leaf blowers.
Public Policy & Communications
Asthma Coalition of Long Island
Re: Public health rationale for moderating gasoline leaf blower use
To the Members of the Huntington Town Board:
The Asthma Coalition of Long Island/American Lung Association of the Northeast supports the efforts to amend the town code in the Township of Huntington to modify the use of Gasoline Leaf Blowers (GLBs). This action would improve the health of the public - particularly children and the elderly - and reduce pollution of our environment. Other communities in New York and elsewhere have implemented restrictions on gasoline leaf blowers without any serious economic or other consequences. Other major organizations concerned with health and the environment also support such modification. Gasoline leaf blowers pose many hazards to health and the environment, including the following:
Airborne pollutants. Large volumes of particulates are stirred up which stay in the air for days. These include carcinogens and other dangerous contaminants.
GLBs release clouds of dust that may also contain heavy metals, mold
and fungus spores, weed seeds, insect eggs, and rodent feces,
especially when used in the summer months when few leaves are on the
ground. These provoke allergies and asthma, cardiovascular
conditions, and contribute to lung disease.
Each time a leaf blower is refueled, toxic fumes (Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs) may be released into the air. Spilling and overfilling equipment will also result in the release of VOCs, which
react with sunlight to cause ground-level ozone (smog). Ozone affects the lungs and many other organs. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic illness are the most susceptible. Long Island’s
air quality has rated “F” for the past 14 years, and GLBs contribute to the problem.
Ground and water pollution. Gasoline spilled on lawns can seep into the groundwater and waterways, affecting drinking water and polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Toxins and other materials swept into streets clog storm drains and may also end up in our waterways.
Harm to soil, landscapes and small animals. GLBs damages top soil, harms tender landscape plants, and disturbs the habitats of small animals and insects.
Noise pollution. Gasoline powered leaf blowers create noise levels of 90-100 decibels at close range, and exceed the EPA's recommended maximum noise level even at 50 feet. Excess noise produces an increase in blood pressure, adrenaline, heart rate and stress; it also damages hearing. Landscape workers, who rarely use protective devices, are particularly at risk.
For these public health reasons, we concur with the many other health and environmental organizations which support efforts to restrict the use of gasoline leaf blowers.
Anne L, MPH, AE-C
member Asthma Coalition of Long Island
Prioritizing Prevention: Negative Health Effects of Gas Leaf Blowers
Breast Cancer Action Coalition email to Huntington, NY government, Jul. 2014
Dear Supervisor Petrone,
As an Environmental Health focused non-profit grassroots organization, we at the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. (HBCAC) are writing to voice our concerens about the health effects of gasoline powered leaf blowers (GLBs). We work closely with the Silent Spring Institute, and their recently published review has shown that GLBs put out potential breast carcinogens such as benzene 1,3-butadiene. Other residues put out by GLBs are considred endocrine disruptors, and can be linked to asthma, cancer, and other life-long illnesses.
We believe it is of utmost importance to Prioritize Prevention by identifying and mitigating the environmental causes of breast cancer and other life-long illnesses. By rasising awareness and making new policy, we can actively reduce risk and enviornmental exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, reducing the number of cases in the future.
Huntington BC Action Coalation
Silent Spring Institute
Recently published review of likely breast carcinogens from gasoline fumes and exhaust, Jul. 2014
To whom it may concern,
As scientists at Silent Spring Institute, we are writing to share our concerns about the health effects of gasoline powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscaping equipment. Our recently published review of likely breast carcinogens (available at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307455/) identified exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and many polyaromatic hydrocarbons as particularly high concerns based on their strength as genotoxic carcinogens and the potential for high exposure both from gasoline fumes and from the exhaust of gasoline powered devices such as leafblowers. The Institute of Medicine also recently identified benzene and butadiene as two of the environmental chemicals most likely to increase breast cancer risk (their report is available at http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Breast-Cancer-and-the-Environment-A-Life-Course-Approach.aspx).
In addition to possible links with breast cancer, these chemicals and others in gasoline fumes and exhaust have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems as well as cancer at multiple
Julia B., Silent Spring Institute
Ruthann R., Silent Spring Institute
Janet A., Silent Spring Institute
Broadway Veterinary Hospital & Wellness Center, Sonoma, CA
Effects of leaf blowers on animals - eyes, respiratory, skin, "fight or flight".
In support of local efforts to ban gas leaf blowers and improve the quality of life in Sonoma and drastically reduce unnecessary harmful particulate matter in the air we breathe, I wanted to contribute a few
statements and my opinion from the vantage point of a working small animal Veterinarian in Sonoma.
It is very well known that particulate matter such as dust, dirt, and debris from the environment can pose a tremendous health challenge for dog, cats, and virtually all other mammals. While the normal changes in seasons, weather, rainfall, and pollen counts can all affect animals, extra particulate matter such as the debris aerosolized by leaf blowers pose a sharply increased risk for a variety of health problems for our domestic species. Among those most notably seen by me directly are:
1. Significant flare up of cough, wheezing, and "respiratory" issues that encompass both infectious and inflammatory types of diseases.
2. Eye problems of unknown origin--either in one or both eyes: owners report a clear discharge from the eyes or a "pink eye" situation with no previous known injury.
3. Nasal discomfort: rubbing and snorting, as if to remove a "foreign body" that is not there, but rather a minute irritant that was substantial enough to bother the mucous membranes and irritate the pet’s nasal passages.
4. Skin issues, including itching and scratching. These clinical signs are usually blamed completely on atopy or "allergy." There is well documented, long standing scientific evidence that the irritation in the skin is secondary to allergens that the pet has inhaled.
In addition, because pets are so sound sensitive, the use of leaf blowers can startle animals and cause outdoor pets to dart away from yards and potentially scare them into more dangerous situations such as traffic or other precarious situations.
The blasting "on and off" sounds made with leaf blowers has a definite impact on small animals "fight or flight" response, causing an immediate release of cortisol into the bloodstream. Especially with cats, this taxes the body and leads to a surge in blood glucose almost instantly. In my opinion, this is a good example of the loud noise made by leaf blowers having a negative impact on animals all around our town---it is not an obvious impact, but once you realize what is going on inside their bodies on a cellular level, you realize that maybe the impact is farther reaching than we previously realized.
The information and examples I have stated above are only a small sample of the deleterious effects that leaf blowers have on the small animals of Sonoma. I hope that my words will help get some conversations started that emphasize the importance of considering the quality of life for our pets in Sonoma as people make an effort to decide the fate of leaf blowers in our community.
I would be happy to answer any other questions regarding this topic as my time and schedule permit.
Vallard F., DVM ~ Broadway Veterinary Hospital
The number one non-emergency call complaint is noise, in NYC.
Washington Post, May 2018
New York State, Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Facts and tips about leaf blowers.
World Health Organization - article on effects such as interference with communications, hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular, mental health, performance, ...WHO - Guidelnes
The center for Hearing an Communications presents a couple tables showing deciblel level for various kinds of sounds and activities.CHC Hearing - Common environmental noise levels
Clean Air Lawn Care, Seattle, uses solar charged electric equipment and organic treatmentsClean Air Lawn Care Seattle - home page
AGZA rigorously tests and advocates for the highest quality best performing zero-emission lawncare equipment.
Letter from Setauket Landscaping Design regarding the overuse of gas leaf blowers.
Dear Supervisor Romaine and Council Men and Women,
As a member of the landscaping community, [redacted], I can speak to the fact that gas leaf blowers are overused, misused, and are often unnecessary. Summer months in particular, have no need for gas blowers, yet one often sees multiple blowers on a single property. How much force is needed to move a few grass clippings? If landscapers feel the absolute need to blow, they can invest in commercial grade battery blowers which require no maintenance, don't pollute, are a good investment, and certainly are much quieter.
Homeowners should also be conscious of the impact these gas powered machines have on their neighbors, themselves and environment. Using a manual rake and a broom is all you need to accomplish the task, and actually, holistically leads to a better finished result ! Raking out a lawn and garden bed actually stimulates, loosens,and improves the soil, grass, and planting areas , as well as the psychological and physiological wellbeing of the person doing the action.
By decreasing the use of unnecessary gas blower usage, we can reduce toxic emissions, provide a safer work environment for landscape workers, provide a more sustainable delivery of services, all which is are a win-win for residents, workers, neighborhoods and Mother Nature.
As a business owner and resident in your district, I strongly support any and all initiatives to restrict/ban the use of gas leaf blowers.
Ecoquiet Lawn Care explains how they save 10-25% on labor costs by using electric tools.
I'm George C. of Ecoquiet Lawn Care. We use only zero emission, gasoline free lawn maintenance equipment. I wanted to let my fellow landscaping colleagues know how profitable eliminating gas equipment can be.
There are several things to consider when converting from gas to lithium battery equipment. A huge advantage to using battery equipment supplemented with an occasion hand tool, is how easy it is to market and sign up customers. The idea markets itself!
When I started I had five customers. I put lawn signs out advertising clean, quiet, lawn care. I immediately got 35 inquiries from neighbouring properties and communities.
I was a one-man operation at the time and I was terrified about how I could meet this instant demand for my services. What was great about having an overabundance of customers was I got to pick and choose which clients to service. You can avoid the cheap clients and target the richer ones because you have a premium product. This lead to higher profits and better referrals.
Along with savings on marketing and advertising I achieved higher profit margins. If you choose your equipment properly you save in the range of 2-5 dollars/labor hour. That translates to 10-25% savings on labor costs.
Choose a leaf blower with a minimum of 500cfm, 125mph and a large battery wattage rating. It's a good idea to use a system with platform compatible batteries that have a fast recharge rate. My company charges $50/hr which is above the national average of $40/hr. This means you make and keep more of your revenue.
My first year, I was so busy I had to work holidays, but my payoff was an additional $500/day and no complaints from customers or neighbours since I did not make noise or disturb their privacy. I always spoke to neighbours and told them if I was annoying them, to please let me know and I would come back another day. Not a single call, not on Easter, not on Halloween not on the 4th of July. Customers and neighbours didn't even know I was there.
In my case, technology extended my workweek instead of shortening it, but no complaints from me. It is so easy to add an additional 500 workman hours per employee a year for a total of $25,000 at $50/hr and that ain't chopped liver.
I did not come home reeking of gasoline fumes, my wife didn't hate doing my laundry and my ears didn't ring at the end of the day. I didn't lug around heavy gas cans and didn't have to deal with tune-ups, degreasers, belt, hoses, etc. A true pleasure.
Running an all-electric landscaping company is a bit different and there is a learning curve involved but the effort and investment is well worth it. You will enjoy additional profits and very happy customers. They like the fact that they are choosing a better option for the environment, their families health, and get to enjoy
their peace and quiet. The whole neighbourhood appreciates it and business just keeps getting better and better.