Leafblowers: not just an acoustic nuisance

Emily Critchley is starting a campaign against a new menace that is both very noisy and chemically toxic.

She writes: ‘Noisy petrol leaf-blowers, ubiquitous in British gardens these days, are
also super-polluters which exacerbate asthma, a range of cancers and
permanently deform the growing lungs, brains, eyes and ears of children.

Hearing damage begins to occur when someone is around “extended exposure”
to any sound of 85 decibels or higher. Just two hours of operating a leaf
blower, which hits 90 decibels, can cause permanent damage and hearing
loss, even if it’s used at the house next door.

Moreover, the 2-stroke leaf blower is 300 times more polluting than a car for
ozone-causing pollution. Its engine has been banned for every other use
except lawn and road maintenance. Even a newer 4-stroke petrol leaf blower
recently tested emitted 50x more brain-damaging particulate pollutants
than all the engines in a busy intersection of cars at rush hour. This
particulate pollution ends up in our lungs. About 30% of the fuel
(gasoline / oil mix) goes out the exhaust and becomes an aerosol for us to
breath. Many gasoline components are carcinogens (e.g., benzene,
butadiene, formaldehyde). A person operating a leaf blower with its
fuel-laden exhaust is exposed to 10,000 parts per million or more fuel in
air.

Why are we destroying our lungs, as well as our eardrums, when rakes and
brooms do the same job – and leaves on lawns are actively good for the
soil, for flowers, insects and small mammals?

Let’s get this deafening and destructive practice banned!’

Contact Emily Critchley emily.critchley@cantab.net