Leaf Blowers: Bad For the Environment, Bad For You

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It’s the season for leaf blowers, but evidence shows these inefficient and obnoxious tools are bad for both your health and the environment. Here’s why you should ditch the leaf blower this fall.

There are few sounds more annoying to me than the sound of a noisy, fumy, inefficient leaf blower. Disrupting the crisp fall air with dust, pollution, and a noisy racket, leaf blowers have been annoying people for years, and now some are saying “enough.” Some municipalities have even banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. But if yours hasn’t, take a stand, and stop using them of your own accord.

So what’s so bad about leaf blowers, besides the annoyance factor?

For one thing, they are extremely inefficient and bad for the environment. In fact, most of the cheaper models of leaf blowers used by homeowners produce huge amounts of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide – even more than some automobiles!

Here is more on the health and environmental risks of leaf blowers, and why you should avoid using them:

A 2011 test done by car experts at Edmunds found, amazingly, that a consumer-grade leaf blower emitted more pollutants than a large SUV. The California Air Resources Board concurs, stating that one hour of operating a leaf blower, compared to an average large car, emits 498 times as much hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter, and 26 times as much carbon monoxide.

As for the noise, it’s something no one likes, and in fact could damage your hearing. Leaf blower noise measures 70 to 75 decibels from 50 feet away, and higher at a closer range. The World Health Organization recommends levels of 55 decibels or less, and prolonged noise levels over 75 decibels have been found to cause hearing loss.


And then there’s that particulate matter issue. Not only do leaf blowers blow leaves, but also dirt, dust, and whatever tiny bits of things are on the ground and sidewalk. This could include everything from toxins such as lead and pesticides to molds and fungus.

All of this then swirls around in the air for a while, where it can be breathed in by the leaf blower operator as well as others in the vicinity. This potent airborne mixture can impact anyone, but especially those with asthma or other existing lung conditions.

Read more at The Santa Cruz Sentinel


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