If cleaning up around the house for holiday guests involves removing fallen leaves on the porch or pathways in the yard, consider picking up a broom instead of a gas-powered leaf blower. Let’s skip the Top 10 List of reasons to avoid a leaf blower — because we are all busy during the holidays — and shorten it to four.
Why ditch the leaf blower?
1. Leaf blowers pollute the air.
Lawn equipment, like leaf blowers, emit pollutants such as hazardous air pollutants, carbon monoxide, particle pollution (dust), carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds. These pollutants can contribute to health problems that may affect homeowners, their families, and the community.
2. They are really noisy.
A normal, acceptable decibel level in residential areas is about 60 decibels. Leaf blowers generate about 70-75 decibels. According to the U.S. EPA, this level of noise degrades quality of life by interfering with talking and sleeping; can reduce work accuracy; and can increase stress and aggravation. These negative effects can last for hours afterwards.
3. They kick up allergens and can trigger asthma episodes and lung problems.
Leaf blowers don’t just move leaves. They stir up allergens, mold, animal feces, and dust particles that were previously stabilized. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, about five pounds of particulate matter per leaf blower per hour are blown into the air and can drift for days before settling out. Depending on the density of your neighborhood, your use of a leaf blower can affect you and 8 to 14 of your neighbors. These small particles can bypass your body’s natural filter systems in your nose and throat and float down deep into your lungs, causing respiratory difficulties – especially for sensitive individuals.
4. They use gasoline when greener alternatives are available.
Rakes and brooms offer fossil fuel-free alternatives that will keep the air in your neighborhood healthier to breathe. The great thing about a broom is once you buy one, it won’t cost you a penny to operate. And you even get a little exercise as you use it! An electric leaf blower is better than a gas-powered one because it does not emit engine pollution and is usually quieter; however, the generation of electricity causes air pollution at the power plant.
For more information on actions you can take to be healthier and improve the environment, visit the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality’s website at www.deq.pima.gov or call (520) 243-7446. Happy Holidays!