Letter: Ban Leaf Blowers

Three leaf blowers at work in Cold Spring on Nov. 27 (Photo by Astrid Lindgren)

It’s that time of the year: Earsplitting noise, flying rubbish and pollution from leaf blowers, sometimes two or three at once.

Leaf blowers propel into the air dirt, dust, pollen, fecal matter, mold, fungus spores, pesticides, herbicides, lead and elemental carbon. Absorbed into the lungs, particulate matter can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks and other lung diseases, particularly among children and the elderly.

According to emissions tests conducted by Edmunds, using a commercial leaf blower with a two-stroke engine for 30 minutes of yard work produces about the same hydrocarbons as driving a Ford F-150 pickup for 3,900 miles.

Any other resident dreaming of a ban on leaf blowers? Or at least some regulation? If you employ landscapers who operate a leaf blower to clean your manicured lawns, could you please talk to them and maybe look for courteous and environmentally sound alternatives for clearing leaves and driveways? Thank you.

Astrid Lindgren, Cold Spring

6 thoughts on “Letter: Ban Leaf Blowers

  1. I’m with you, Astrid. With the planet in peril, we should be adopting consideration of the habitat of our native flora and fauna. The time has past for gas powered leaf blowers. Leave the leaves, plant natives and watch the birds and bees return. No pesticides!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more! These machines are used all the year round too, blowing nothing but dust.

    Their manufacturers admit the air fired from the machines reaches 239 mph and averages 190. That’s three times hurricane speed fired into insect, hibernator and pollinator habitats at close range. It annihilates them, robbing birds of their winter food supply.

    One aspect of the machines that isn’t declared enough is this: they’re all but useless on damp or wet leaves. Even on dry, sunny fall days, only that day’s recent leaves will be dry enough to blow, the rest will have soaked up all the night mists and recent rain and be unmovable except with a rake.

    Yes, a rake! Having raked a great deal in recent weeks, I have this to say to the world as a fact: raking leaves is half as strenuous as riding a bicycle. I do both (not at the same time), so I can compare precisely. And I’m 55, overweight and asthmatic. If I find raking leaves easy, anyone half my age has no excuse to reach for a blower, (especially as blowers are no use in damp anyhow).

    And why the need to clear all leaves? From paths, driveways, sidewalks, roofs and lawns fair enough, but why in woodland. See the guy on the right of that photograph? Why clear leaves from there? That’s wildlife-land, not human land. Where leaves are meant to be, to mulch down, nourish the soil, protect against ground-frost and house myriad bugs and insects etc. Joined-up thinking honed over millions of years’ evolution. But now Blower Man stalks the Earth, claiming he knows better. He does not.

    (And while we’re here, why is the man on the left blowing leaves from grass onto a path?! And there’s his colleague down there waiting to receive them with another blower. Huh?!?)

    If any blower enthusiasts are reading this and gearing up to reply, go ahead, provided you first answer this question: why are these machines used ALL YEAR ROUND in public places by landscapers and gardeners? They’re meant to be LEAF-blowers, but there’s no leaf-fall 10 months of the year, yet the machines are used all 52 weeks. Why’s that, guys? Explain?

  3. The gas leaf blower invasion is intolerable. If we have a sound ordinance, I am sure that every one of those machines is in violation. You literally cannot think with them nearby. And it is not just during leaf season.

    Landscapers are using them to blow cut grass during the long mowing season. A little sweeping was the old method. I’ve even seen them used for light snow removal on Main Street. It is an addiction of landscapers and, unfortunately, some homeowners.

    Sometimes the operators have ear protection, but that doesn’t help residents, and, as the writer mentioned, it is more than noise that is the problem. They are simply not for use in populated areas. The village itself uses them without compunction. Please, public officials, do your duty in maintaining quality of life. In addition, if we are truly a Climate Smart community, we need to eliminate all unnecessary fossil fuel use.

  4. Leaf blowers are intolerable. Their ubiquitous use is an environmental disaster and the noise pollution is degrading to our quality of life. I don’t know why they are tolerated; the proposed Beacon noise ordinance exempts landscaping equipment. Outrageous!

  5. Thank you, Astrid Lundgren! As you point out, the use of leaf blowers is a serious health, safety and environmental issue.

    A landowner who hires a “landscaper” to care for his or her lawn, etc. should simply tell them: “Mow, don’t blow.” That will cut the time they’re on your place and logically the cost of maintenance.

    The health consequences to the individual running the machines must be serious, as well. How often have you seen workers going along, intent on doing their job, without ear, eye or lung protection? Are these workers simply expendable?

    There is a noise ordinance (175-40, Environmental performance standards, paragraph C) on the books of Philipstown, but as Greg Wunner, the code enforcer, has told me, it’s basically unenforceable. He has no equipment, training or baseline data with which to monitor excessive decibel levels.

    Enjoy the holiday everyone! Let’s hope for lots of snow, which will provide us with a much-needed respite from the disarming drone of the dreaded leaf blowers.

  6. Terrible air, noise, the disturbance of all-around growth, pollination, habitat of nature’s little things, danger to the user. Should be outlawed.