Leaf Blower? Or An Asthma Attack Waiting to Happen

More than 20 million U.S. children and adults live with asthma, making it one of the most common and costly diseases. 2 stroke gas leaf blowers emit 300x more smog-producing pollutants than a car. Ozone pollution, otherwise known as smog pollution, leads to asthma attacks. Don’t doubt it, read about it.

LINK: https://www.kqed.org/news/11310630/more-pollution-than-cars-gas-powered-gardening-equipment-poses-the-next-air-quality-threat

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While We Plant Native To Save Pollinators and Birds, Others Spray to Kill

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I’ve spent hours of time and a lot of money to remake my yard to 90% native plant habitat for birds and pollinators. I’ve made certain that it “fits in” with the neighborhood and doesn’t look too wild.  Certainly, we’ve all read that pollinators are on the decline and our songbirds are suffering?  Nevertheless, those surrounding me in my neighborhood continue the lawn spraying which kills the life in the soil and the fireflies we might have had, their mosquito spray kills my bumblebees and butterflies and the leaf blower crews terrify the birds I would have enjoyed.  

I wrote this letter to Delaware Senator Hansen, but I’ll be sharing it with many other lawmakers in hopes of getting some help and protection for those of us caring for nature in our yards.

Dear Senator Hansen,

Thank you for efforts with the Ecological Extinction Task Force. The work you’re doing is so important. Many people across the country are very concerned about the potential extinction of our pollinators and the lack of native plants in landscaping and we’re trying to make a difference in our own yards.

Many pollinator gardeners need protection from their neighbors who spray for mosquitoes. Often unnecessary pesticides are being sprayed right next door which kill all the pollinators we’re trying to save. Science tells us there are much smarter and safer answers if there truly is a mosquito issue.

Nothing fits the ‘unnecessary’ category more than lawn chemicals. They’re completely uncalled-for and they destroy habitat for our ground-nesting bees. 70% of our native bees nest in the ground. These useless and dangerous chemicals hurt our pollinators.

What I’m suggesting is that we need to help the homeowners who are working so hard to Garden for Wildlife and maybe we could bring others on board at the same time  Let’s consider rewarding pollinator friendly yards with a tax break. We need incentives for those doing the right thing to encourage other homeowners to do the same.

For example, the American Bee Project gives agricultural tax benefits for land used for European honey bee foraging. Why don’t we give tax breaks to homeowners that provide a place for our native pollinators to forage, breed, and nest safely?

We CAN have it all. Yards can be neat, beautiful, organic, quiet, and fossil-fuel-free. Native plants, pollinators, and birds can find sanctuary in our yards. Let’s recognize and safeguard homeowners who are making better choices.

Thank you for considering this. We can all work to save pollinators from extinction and we’ll be saving humanity in the process.

Leslie Nelson Inman
saveourpollinators.wordpress.com
Pollinator Friendly Yards on Facebook

Sources:

LINK:https://news.rutgers.edu/more-kinds-bees-better-h…/20180214…
LINK: https://www.theguardian.com/…/biodiversity-extinction-tippi…
LINK: https://sciencing.com/extinctions-other-creatures-affect-hu…
Leaf blowers 300x more polluting than a car:
LINK:https://www.wsj.com/…/that-ear-splitting-leaf-blower-it-als…
9 billion gallons of water used a day on landscape watering
LINK: https://www.epa.gov/…/ws-factsheet-outdoor-water-use-in-the…
Some birds so stressed by noise it appears they have PTSD
LINK: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/some-birds-are-so-stress…/…

Autumn is the Season Of Lung Cancer and Hearing Loss

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Please take a minute to write an email about the proliferation of leaf blowers wars in our neighborhoods.  Share it with as many lawmakers and journalists as you can find an email for.  Feel free to use this letter or write your own, but just send it  Leaf blowers are a serious quality of life and health issue and landscapers usually attempt to trivialize it.  The constant din of leaf blowers affects our property values; nobody wants to buy in a neighborhood with constant leaf blower battles raging.  Whenever a leaf blower ban or restriction is put in place, the lawmaker or mayor will always say, “I’ve received so many emails from citizens complaining about the noise and fumes from leaf blowers, and that’s why we’re enacting this leaf blower restriction.” 

Dear Ms. Ide,

Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns about gas leaf blowers in my neighborhood.

Gas Leaf Blowers have been banned in more than 170 municipalities and in 31 states across the U. S. The landscaping industry has adjusted with more environmentally friendly practices like rakes and brooms or electric blowers. Landscaping businesses are still going strong and prices haven’t gone up.

When my husband and I bought our house in Morningside, we thought we could avoid Atlanta traffic by working from home, but working from home is impossible. Why? Because of the constant leaf blower crews invading our neighborhood. It sounds like an industrial zone around here. Atlanta needs more telecommuting as a solution to our traffic problem.  It’s become a choice between my job or the landscapers’ and I’m working from my own home.   I can’t hear myself think, I can’t concentrate or make phone calls because of the constant droning of leaf blowers. This goes on all year long.  I pay a lot in property taxes. I should be able to use my home office in peace.

Leaf blowers are destroying our air quality along with our quality of life.   The landscaping-crew style of business has grown enormously in the last decade, but with no oversight or regulation. Crews are allowed to show up in our neighborhood with deafeningly loud and astoundingly filthy equipment. Leaf blower crews now operate year-round blowing dust on the hottest summer Code Red days. They contribute greatly to Atlanta’s ozone pollution problem. Fulton County received an F for Ozone pollution three years in a row and one gas leaf blower produces 300X more ozone-causing pollutants than a pickup truck.  If we take gas leaf blowers out of the mix, Fulton might not score an F next year. Ground-level ozone pollution exacerbates asthma attacks. 25,000 children in Georgia visit emergency rooms annually because of asthma issues.  Now that we realize how polluting this equipment is, we can make changes. If nothing else,  let’s consider air quality for the children.

Thank you, Leslie Nelson Inman

SOURCES:

Study on leaf blower emissions.

LINK: https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/emissions-test-car-vs-truck-vs-leaf-blower.html

 

California information on small gardening engine pollution. LINK: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/sore/sm_en_fs.pdf

 

Atlanta’s State of the Air Score. American Lung Association

http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/states/georgia/fulton.html

 

Study about Atlanta and Ozone: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935184710218

 

Atlanta’s Air Quality F for Ozone — Ozone is smog that exacerbates asthma. The report broke down measurements of high ozone days by county. Metro Atlanta, Fulton earned an “F” grade. LINK: http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/states/georgia/fulton.html

 

Georgias’s children’s asthma information 2016: https://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/2016%20CHILD%20ASTHMA%20DATA%20SUMMARY%2008.2017.pdf

 

Leaf blowers are More Polluting Than Cars? Yes.  LINK: https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/02/13/more-pollution-than-cars-gas-powered-gardening-equipment-poses-the-next-air-quality-threat/

 

Noisy, But That’s Not All

Leaf Blowers Flagged as Prodigious Polluters

LINK: https://www.fairwarning.org/2017/09/leaf-blower/

 

Using Those Leaf Blowers To Erase An Entire Season? That Should Cost More

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Erasing a season costs money. I think this idea needs to be a part of the standard argument: If homeowners demand a perfectly pristine yard, then they should be required to pay more.  If they are trying to completely erase the season of autumn and have a golf course style lawn around their house then that will cost them more.  I rake my property and my yard looks neat, but you can still see leaves and you can tell what season it is.  Next door to me, lawn chemicals and non-native plants are used to maintain a year-round unnatural green.  Loud, polluting leaf blowers are constantly required on these types of properties to ensure that not a leaf or a twig touch the lawn.  If homeowners want to pretend seasons that have existed on earth for millions of years don’t really happen, then they should pay a high price for that. Lord knows the rest of us pay a high price for their ridiculous demands.  Many landscapers have told me that customers will “bless them out” if one leaf is left behind.

Also, if you put landscapers on a level playing field with all-electric equipment, then normal marketplace competition will make prices affordable.

If Leaf Blowers Are Destroying Your Quality of Life, Please Write a Letter And Get This Issue On Lawmakers Radar

Feel free to copy and use this letter to inform and educate lawmakers and journalists.  It would be best to add your own personal story of dealing with the noise and toxic exhaust from leaf blowers and then add few facts. You’re done!  Now send that one letter to every lawmaker and journalist you can find an email address for.  If you don’t, then my email is the only one they’ve received! If they receive 100+ emails, then this becomes an issue worth working on. 

Senator Lewis;

Please take a moment to read about a significant neighborhood problem affecting many of us on a daily basis: The Landscaping Leaf Blower Crew.

Gas Leaf Blowers have been banned or restricted in more than 170 municipalities in 31 states across the U.S. and the landscaping industry has adjusted with more environmentally friendly practices using brooms, rakes and electric blowers.  Where these bans are in place, landscaping companies are still in business and prices haven’t gone up.

Many people don’t realize how toxic conventional landscaping practices are for our health and the environment.   Noisy, polluting leaf blowers are destroying the quality of life in our neighborhoods.  When I arrive home from work to the revving and blaring of these engines I wonder what happened to my once peaceful neighborhood.  The #1 thing most homebuyers look for is a quiet neighborhood.  By demanding a “pristine golf course landscape” instead of a tidy and beautiful naturalistic landscape, we’re destroying the peace of our neighborhood and that’s going to lower the value of our homes.

When homeowners unrealistically demand that every leaf and twig are removed off their lawns, the result is a leaf blower battle-ground in the neighborhood.  Landscapers claim this equipment is faster but they blast away at deafening levels for hours on end all day long.  Meanwhile, the rest of us can’t work from home, we can’t open windows, we can’t relax in our garden, we can’t use our screened-in porch, and we can’t enjoy a healthy walk.  You would think law-abiding, tax-paying citizens would have the right to peace on their own property.  Leaf blowers are a public nuisance that substantially interfere with the enjoyment and use of one’s own private property.  

Leaf blower crews now operate year-round blowing dust on the hottest summer Code Red days and ruining the most beautiful fall days.  They show up while the homeowner who hired them is at work. Those of us who work from home are left to endure it.  The landscaping company wants to keep a year-round contract even though there is very little to do most months of the year. They seem to want their crews to look busy by making a ton of noise to prove they showed up. Meanwhile, they’re spewing toxic pollution into our air for no reason!  There are no leaves to blow for 9 months of the year, but they blast away at 185 mph whipping up hazardous particles and contaminants at ground speeds greater than a Category 5 hurricane.  (The Husqvarna company claims its Leaf Blower model 580BTS pumps out an airspeed of 206.2 MPH) Epidemiological studies have long recognized these particles cause damage to respiratory systems. What’s in this dust and particulate matter? A myriad of unpleasant things such as animal droppings, spores, fungi, pollen, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, brake-lining dust, tire-residue, and heavy metals. 

We’ve banned tiny cigarettes in parks and other outdoor areas because we know how toxic second-hand smoke is, but leaf blower ‘second-hand smoke’ is a thousand times worse and I see them blowing away on every green space in town.  Gas leaf blower exhaust contains many of the same carcinogens found in second-hand cigarette smoke such as Benzene, 1-3 Butadiene, Toluene, and Formaldehyde and these pollutants are discharged into our neighborhood yards and parks in concentrated form.   These are known carcinogens recognized by the World Health Organization.

The rest of us pay too high a price for someone’s else’s perceived “convenience” and the desire for overly-manicured yards.

An unfortunate myth is that landscaping is a great job for the working man, but on the contrary, the landscaping industry takes advantage of our most vulnerable workers.  Immigrant laborers carry these machines on their backs for up to 12 hours a day.  Given the 115-decibel noise level, their hearing will be severely damaged.  Only the very best ear protection available would shield them and usually, they wear none. They also breathe the toxic exhaust fumes can lead to COPD or lung cancer.  (Read about one worker here: https://www.fairwarning.org/2017/09/leaf-blower/)

Another huge disadvantage is the injury done to our bird populations. Studies show birds display PTSD-like symptoms due to the constant din of overly-loud human activity. These birds are unable to successfully raise their young and are driven from their nests. (Study about birds and noise: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/noise-pollution-makes-birds-so-stressed-they-experience-ptsdlike-symptoms/)

Don’t underestimate the pollution caused by these machines. Gas Leaf blowers produce 300X more asthma-inducing, smog-causing pollutants than a pickup truck. According to California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) there are 16 million small engines producing 50 MILLION TONS of smog-forming pollutants and in one area of California alone! This is NOT a small problem.

LINK to CARB  information. https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/sore/sm_en_fs.pdf

Here’s information about leaf blower emissions testing: https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/emissions-test-car-vs-truck-vs-leaf-blower.html

We’ve formed a sustainable yards group and we’re working on educating others about healthier yards and neighborhoods.  Thank you for your consideration of these issues and I hope that our group could meet with you and talk about potential solutions to this problem.

Thank you,

Leslie Nelson Inman

SOURCES:

Study on leaf blower emissions.

LINK: https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/emissions-test-car-vs-truck-vs-leaf-blower.html

 

California information on small gardening engine pollution. LINK: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/sore/sm_en_fs.pdf

 

Study about Atlanta and Ozone: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935184710218

 

Atlanta’s Air Quality F for Ozone — Ozone is smog that exacerbates asthma. The report broke down measurements of high ozone days by county. Metro Atlanta, Fulton earned an “F” grade. LINK: http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/states/georgia/fulton.html

 

Georgias’s children’s asthma information 2016: https://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/2016%20CHILD%20ASTHMA%20DATA%20SUMMARY%2008.2017.pdf

Landscaping workers suffer ill health.  LINK: https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/02/13/more-pollution-than-cars-gas-powered-gardening-equipment-poses-the-next-air-quality-threat/

 

Gas Leaf Blower Exhaust Is Concentrated and Toxic

Gas leaf blowers have small and yet super-polluting engines. They emit toxic contaminants such as carcinogenic benzene as well as surprisingly large amounts of other smog-forming chemicals.

In fact, according to estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, emissions of smog-producing substances from mowers, blowers and other small off-road engines last year were 81 percent as high as the amount from standard sedans. In the air pollution-plagued Los Angeles area, the small off-road engines category is projected to overtake cars as a contributor to smog around 2020.

Perhaps most worrisome, the gas engines release high concentrations of microscopic ultrafine particles, as recently confirmed in tests commissioned by FairWarning. Ultrafine particles are unregulated, but scientists increasingly believe they are a serious danger. That threat is particularly true for landscaping workers, but also a potential concern for other adults and children who are exposed. Ultrafine particles are 0.1 of a micron, or roughly one-thousandth the width of a human hair. (By 

Read the complete article here: https://www.fairwarning.org/2017/09/leaf-blower/

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Gas Leaf Blowers Are Extreme-Polluters

While the excessive noise of gas-powered leaf blowers is an obvious annoyance, most of us are unaware of the not-so-silent danger and outsized impact these machines pose to the quality of the surrounding air, the climate, and the negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of our communities, and the workers who operate them. Because of this, dozens of cities and towns across the United States have banned them altogether.

The problem is, when gas and oil mix together in the two-stroke engine, about a third of it does not combust. Even more surprising is the huge volume of emissions these “tiny” engines produce. According to a study conducted by Edmunds, the car reviewer, a half-hour of yardwork with a two-stroke-engine leaf blower produced the same amount of hydrocarbon emissions as a 3,887-mile drive in a Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck. As a result, pollutants that have been linked to cancers, heart disease, asthma and other serious ailments escape into the air.

By Michael Hall, Stanley Penkin and Mary Peveto

LINK TO FULL ARTICLE: https://portlandtribune.com/pt/10-opinion/407949-305825-my-view-why-we-should-ban-gas-leaf-blowers

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