Ever wonder how any yard work can be accomplished when you see people taking a glorified hair dryer to their yard debris? Everyday to and from work I see numerous landscapers and occasionally homeowners working hard, or hardly working, blowing leaves and soil into a whirling dust devil. How can this be accomplishing anything in the way of picking up landscape debris? While I've never actually used one, I do know that any equipment requiring personal protective gear may have a more viable alternative available (aka broom). Many city's across the country have pondered this exact question at their city council's determining that this obtrusive piece of equipment was better left on store shelves. There have been 100 cities that have banned the use of leaf blowers, while Hawaii, Arizona & New Jersey have all considered bans at the state level as well.
So what makes these novel little devices so hideous? Their most obvious issue is the NOISE. These handheld gadgets can reach 90-100 dB to the operator's ear and 70-75 dB up to 50 ft away. OSHA actually requires hearing protection starting at 85 dB making this device physically harmful to its operator and those nearby. It's second offense and my main disgruntlement with it would be air pollution. Leaf blowers are large emitters of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter (CO, NOx, HC, & PM). According to the Lung Association, leaf blowers cause as much smog at 17 cars. While not only do gasoline engines produce emissions during use, the off-gasing of spilled fuel during re-fueling is also a source of concern. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently set new emissions standards for non-road spark ignition engines because of their significant contribution to air pollution. What about electric leaf blowers you might say? Well, although they may not pollute the immediate area, the pollution is displaced to power plants, where coal plants are doing the polluting for them. In fact, the leaf blower would still be polluting the immediate area with PM10. The leaf blower raises dust from the ground which, if you're living in the desert we all know "once you break the crust, you raise dust". Particulate matter can get into our lungs and cause respiratory problems and is especially aggravating for those with asthma. So in short leaf blowers just SUCK!