Leaf Blower Facts

Gas-Oil Powered leaf blowers are very polluting

They emit toxic, smelly, and carcinogenic compounds that are harmful to you, the operators, and the environment.  

  • The hydrocarbon emissions from 1 hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 1,100-mile drive in light duty passenger car.1  
  • Lawn care equipment creates more pollution than cars, which is why California has passed a law phasing out all gas-powered lawn equipment.2
  • Leaf blowers send pollen, fertilizers, dried animal feces, toxic lawn chemicals, emissions such as polycyclic aromatic compounds; ground-level ozone and; particulate matter into the air breathed by you, your family, your neighbors, and anyone walking, biking, or enjoying a moment outside and nearby.    
Leaf blowers damage your lawn
  • the grass, shrubbery, flowers, and other ground cover. They blast air up to 280 miles per hour, which damages roots and erodes topsoil.3
Gas-powered leaf blowers produce damaging levels of noise.
  • Some produce more than 100 decibels, which can cause tinnitus and hearing loss, particularly from chronic use.4,5 
  • Gas-powered leaf blowers emit a low-frequency noise that travels longer distances and penetrates residential windows more easily than alternatively powered leaf blowers.6
  • Gas-powered leaf blowers affect larger numbers of neighbors in suburban and urban settings with the ears of infants and young children especially vulnerable.65  
Leaves are good for your lawn, for beneficial insects, and the birds we love to see and hear.7 
  • Mowing leaves into a thin layer of mulch on your lawn can make your lawn healthier, replacing the need for toxic chemicals. 
  • Leaving some leaves in your yard helps the insects that feed birds and provides habitat for the pollinators that sustain flowers, crops, and fruit trees.  
There are quiet and healthier alternatives to using gas-powered leaf blowers.8,9 
  • Rakes are inexpensive and are a good opportunity for an all-body workout.
  • Rakes work better on wet leaves than leaf blowers. 
  • Electric leaf blowers are much less polluting and are substantially quieter. 

What can we do? 

  1. Ask your landscaper about using rakes or electric blowers instead of gas-powered leaf blowers. 
    • There are many landscapers who offer these services, but only if you ask. 
    • Sustainable Belmont is compiling a list of Belmont landscapers who offer these services.
    • If you are a landscaper who offers rake service and electric leaf blowers, please let us know so we can include you on our list.
    • Check out the Lincoln Quiet Landscaper List
  2. Spread the word. 
    • Talk to your friends and neighbors about the harmful impacts of gas-powered leaf blowers.
    • Raise the topic at Town meetings and with our Select Board members, who to date have not acknowledged that noise from gas-powered bothers many Belmont residents.  
  3. Support passing a local ordinance to limit the time and day of use of gas-powered leaf blowers, as other nearby towns have done. The town nearly passed a reasonable leaf blower ordinance in spring 2021, but ultimately tabled it. Your support will help it gain traction again. 
  4. Join other Belmont residents in promoting healthy lawn practices.  We welcome your support on this issue.

For more information on this topic, check out these articles and resources.

  1. California Air Resources Board https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2021-10/2021%20SORE%20Fact%20Sheet_0.pdf
  2. Response to BCF article https://www.belmontcitizensforum.org/2020/09/03/letter-to-the-editor-leaf-blowers/
  3. September BCF article on leaf blowers: https://www.belmontcitizensforum.org/2021/08/23/leaf-blowers-damage-belmonts-environment/  
  4. An excellent Site with more facts about the dangers leaf blowers, myths busted, and environmental justice but also about alternatives: https://www.quietcleanpdx.org 
  5. More information on chronic hearing loss linked with excessive noise from US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2017-02-vitalsigns.pdf
  6. Webinar which includes Lexington’s DPW speaking positively about their transition to electric landscaping equipment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiHNhKVJnMU
  7. Quiet Communities Leaf blower web page https://quietcommunities.org/tag/leaf-blowers/
  8. A list of alternatives to reduce noise and air pollution for landscapers, residents, and municipalities: https://www.quietmontclair.org/quiet-alternatives
  9. NYT Wirecutter’s list of best leaf blowers with many outstanding electric options: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-leafblowers/
  10. Sierra Club article covering California State research and regulations: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/california-bill-takes-aim-scourge-gas-powered-leaf-blowers
  11. Healthy Yards – Information for Professionals – On this page you will find the most important steps you can take to make your landscaping practices more healthy for everyone, and sustainable. https://www.healthyyards.org/professionals/

Healthy Yards – Information for Homeowners – Healthy Yard practices are easy and can save you money.  https://www.healthyyards.org/homeowners/

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