Leaf blowers get the job done quickly, and it sure beats raking, but a doctor in New Haven says they pose some big health risks.
Emergency Medicine Physician and Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine Dr. Karen Jubanyik said her biggest concern is what you can’t see, which is potential pollution.
"I was amazed, so a half an hour of leaf blowing is equivalent to driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck, from Texas to Alaska, in terms of hydrocarbons released into the air,” Jubanyik said.
She made her pitch to New Haven's Environmental Advisory Council on Wednesday, saying two-stroke leaf blowers, which use a mixture of gasoline and oil, are the most toxic.
"I'm not a legislator. I'm an educator, by my training and title. I educate people and am just hoping that people will one, maybe do the right thing, ask their landscaper to not use leaf blowers, not use them themselves, or use them less frequently, just be aware,” Jubanyik said.
While pollution is just one problem, her other concern is the noise.
"We all know that noise hurts people in every way, cardiovascular systems, psychiatric systems, immune systems, GI systems, learning and development in children, so there is another reason besides just the air pollution,” Jubanyik said.
Those who sell and work with leaf blowers defend the equipment, saying newer models have to meet environmental protection agency standards when it comes to emissions, and some manufacturers even produce low noise models.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals says it "supports the responsible use of leaf blowers by landscape maintenance professionals and homeowners. For more than two decades, manufacturers have been working in tandem with government agencies to develop regulations for small engine powered equipment, including leaf blowers. According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), EPAregulations have successfully reduced exhaust gas emissions from small off-road engines by up-to 80 percent from previously unregulated equipment. Further, today’s leaf blowers are significantly quieter than their predecessors, as manufacturers have steadily reduced noise levels of equipment. When used responsibly by trained professionals or educated homeowners in accordance with local noise codes, leaf blowers are essential – and efficient – tools for cleaning up debris, and ensure the continued safety and health of both public and private outdoor spaces.”
Jubanyik says Los Angeles banned leaf blowers near homes in the 1990s, and just this April, a town in New Jersey passed an ordinance banning commercial landscapers from using gas-powered leaf blowers during the summer months.
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