What will it take for us to
Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers?
Will it take facts? They're all out there (see some below).
Will it take compassion? If you're employing a landscaper whose employees are leaf-blowing your property, it's important to know that gas-powered lawn equipment engines emit carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and ultrafine particulate matter (PM2.5), and other pollutants, and that the use of leaf blowers also results in hearing loss. Studies show that exposure to these emissions and noise pollution results in higher rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer and early-onset dementia.
What about the environment? We know that we're about to flip the switch into climate catastrophe: an accelerating slide that will have no exit and make life miserable (and finally impossible) for most plants and animals on earth. GPLBs and gas-powered lawn equipment are dirty, CO2 spewing machines. The hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with a two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Ford Raptor (source). And for what? For a yard that is "cleaned" of leaf "litter"—a substance important for pollinators and soil nutrition.
Create a Clean Air Space in Your Neighborhood
People together can change anything, and make a better world.
Make a pact with your neighbors to refuse GPLBs. If you use a landscaper, ask them to mulch your leaves into your lawn with a mulching mower, use electric equipment, and to require safety equipment for their workers. Better yet, reduce the amount of lawn you have, and rake leaves into your beds. That way you'll help pollinators too!
Facts You Should Know about Gas Powered Leaf Blowers
Leaf blower operators are exposed to chemical emissions plus ultrafine particulate matter, both widely recognized as toxic and/or carcinogenic. And so are you, your children, and passersby.
In the medical literature: there is a direct correlations between certain cancers and the type of pollution leaf blowers produce.
Here's a good overview article from the Institute for Exposomic Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai.
GPLBs emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Benzene, 1,3 butadiene, acetaldehyde, and formaldehyde; proven carcinogens responsible for multiple serious health problems, specifically leukemias. Benzene is a proven contributor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in children. Leaf blower engines also produce ultrafine particulate matter (PM), known as PM 10 and PM 2.5 (the numbers indicate diameter in microns). These lodge deep in lungs and are small enough to travel into the bloodstream and even transit the blood-brain barrier (and here's another study).
Leaf blowers cause ultrafine particles on the ground to become airborne. These can include particles from feces, pesticides, molds and heavy metals.
Then there's our shared climate. We know it's getting bad. Why are we continuing with practices that exacerbate climate change? It's all hands on deck: ditch the blower, drive and fly less, insulate your home and upgrade your heating/cooling equipment to heat pumps. If you're buying a new car, go electric. And bee kind to your fellows of all stripes.