A commercial leaf blower emits as much smog-forming pollution in one hour as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1,100 miles. Multiply this by hundreds of blowers in the course of a week, and we understand one small-but-large contribution to Eugene-Springfield’s rating among the worst for air pollution (Register Guard, April 22, 2022). Cars are one thing, but the unregulated two-stroke engine is a giant blow to air quality. Leaf blowers and their companions, two-stroke mowers and weed whackers, may have already eclipsed all California cars and trucks (which are regulated) in emissions.
While we endure the smell of gas and blow of dust, landscape workers with blowers are exposed to the invisible particles of toxins, from benzene to formaldehyde, that lodge in the lungs. While we suffer the deafening low-frequency buzz of the blower that carries for blocks and penetrates walls, the noise for workers is a “recipe for permanent hearing loss,” according to the CDC.
Pollution and noise affect the quality of life of a community. This common yard tool also poses a significant environmental justice issue to workers.
Journalist James Fallows addresses the problem in The Atlantic. https://fallows.substack.com/p/gas-powered-leaf-blowers-the-end?s=r
Advocacy on our part might include asking your landscaper to be a model and writing the city council.
~ Brenda Kame’enui