Health Risks/Environmental Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency states that leaf-blowers are a health risk because they emit particulate matter into the air we breathe.

As leaf-blowers clear away leaves, the intensive air stream blows dust from the ground into circulation. The Highland Park Board of Health adds that “mold spores, allergens,[and] dried animal feces” are also stirred up by blowers. However, the emission of particulate matter is even more disturbing to me.

The Air Resources Board reports that particulate matter contains both solid and liquid particles which can be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs because of how minuscule they are. This agency also states that particulate matter can include “smoke, soot, dust, salt, acids, and metals” as well as gas that has undergone a chemical transformation. It is actually the single most harmful air pollutant according to this same organization.

So, who’s most at risk? The Air Resources Board reports that, as usual, the elderly and our children are in the most danger. However, they add people exercising outside, and people with asthma or bronchitis. A recent study reported by the California Air Resources Board even suggests that exposure to the hazards of leaf-blowers can lead to the premature death of elderly people with lung or heart disease but there have been no conclusive results. Particulate matter can, however, worsen asthma, bronchitis and wear down the body’s system of fighting infection, according to this same agency.

Many gas leaf-blowers are powered by two stroke engines and are especially harmful to the environment. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gasoline is mixed with oil in these engines. Thirty percent of this mixture can be lost as unused exhaust because incoming fuel enters the combustion chamber as the exhaust leaves. The exhaust then carries some unused fuel out with it.

The California EPA states that the main pollutants related leaf-blower exhaust include hydrocarbons, which combine with nitrogen oxide to form the ozone, and carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that can kill. This same organization reports that gasoline powered leaf-blowers also emit benzene, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, a carcinogen which can cause cancer. As the American Lung Association states, “two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars”.

Please help me ban leaf-blowers for our own health and for that of the environment. You can find my email on the contact page.

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