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Leaf Blowers and the Environment

Leaf blowers and the environmentEvery now and then my city revisits the idea of banning leaf blowers.  So far, a ban still hasn't come to fruition, but I hate leaf blowers.  Nothing drives me crazier than a quiet, crisp fall morning ruined by the sound of a neighbor's leaf blower.

The noise pollution is one thing, but even worse is that leaf blowers cause serious air pollution.  In fact,  a 2011 test done by Edmunds showed that “a consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.”  Wow.

Edmunds compared a truck, a sedan, a four-stroke and a two-stroke leaf blower to a variety of emissions tests and discovered that with normal use,  the two-stroke engine emitted almost 299 times the hydrocarbons of the pickup truck and 93 times the hydrocarbons of the sedan. . The four-stroke leaf blower performed better than the two-stroke in some categories, but  it was still worse than the car engines.  On top of that, the leaf blower emitted significant amounts of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

There are even more environmental impacts with leaf blowers than air pollution.  Leaf blowers can strip off topsoil, pull up roots, and kill important organisms in soil.  They also cause things like pollen, mold, insect eggs, animal poop, and weed seeds to become airbourne.  

Alternatives?  Use a good old fashioned rake.  If you have too much land and not enough time to rely on a rake, an electric leaf blower is quieter and better for the environment.