According to this article in the online magazine Electrek, California regulators are planning to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers by 2022. Huzzah, I say! Actually, I would be happy with a ban on just the leaf blowers. I hate them.
The main reason I hate them is that they are so damn loud. Noise pollution is a serious thing – it’s been linked to stress, hypertension, and hearing loss. Not to mention damage to the quality of life.
I mean, the cops would show up and arrest me if I set up giant speakers in my front yard and blasted 90 decibels of, say, polka music into the neighborhood. Why should it be acceptable to generate that kind of noise with leaf blowers – hour after hour, as landscapers move from yard to yard?
Gas-powered leaf blowers also release a great deal of air pollution. A single hour of leaf blower use spews as much air pollution as driving a Toyota Camry for 1,100 miles. And gas-powered leaf blowers emit unsafe amounts of the carcinogen benzene.
About 100 cities around the country have already banned gas-powered leaf blowers. Most are in California, others are scattered around the country. The District of Columbia has passed a ban that also goes into effect in 2022.
Most landscapers don’t like this idea. It will force them to lay out money for electric blowers and the batteries they require. But I have very limited sympathy. Landscapers want to make their costs lower by externalizing them onto the general population, making us endure higher noise and air pollution. How is that fair?
Also, the kind of backpack blowers used by landscapers today have only been around for about 30 years. Before that, landscapers operated without gas-powered blowers. They can do so again.
And finally, gas-powered blowers create an intensively groomed look that has become, but wasn’t always, the standard expectation. But this is not an eternal standard of beauty. Not every scrap of organic matter needs to blown off the lawn.
I’m very confident that most people in my community would be far happier (and healthier) without the din and pollution of gas-powered blowers. What about you, though? Would you ban the blowers, or let them alone?