Scientists tell us we must act to protect our planet for the next generation. They say we must reduce carbon emissions and transition from fossil fuels to renewable, green energy. Public health officials advise us to protect our air.
And we’re responding. Communities are adopting sustainability policies, so we can give our children a livable planet. One sustainability initiative we can take in Concord is to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
These leaf blowers are antithetical to environmental preservation and sustainability. They impose environmental and health costs on communities and the workers who operate them. They increase the environmental burden we will pass onto our children.
There are four reasons gas leaf blowers are detrimental: greenhouse gases; air pollution; particulates; and noise.
In the United States, the largest human source of greenhouse gas emissions is burning of fossil fuels, and that includes the gasoline and oil burned by leaf blowers. In Massachusetts, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Eliminating gas-powered blowers helps us meet these goals, which is critical for our children’s future.
Moreover, operating a blower for one hour emits the same amount of smog-forming pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 1,100 miles – say the distance from Boston to Florida. Blowers emit high concentrations of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to ground-level ozone. Ozone is harmful to humans, trees, and crops. An MIT study concludes 10,000 people die prematurely in the US annually from changes in ozone levels.
Also troubling: gas leaf blower emissions send small particulates (about 3 percent the width of a human hair) into the air. When inhaled, these particles penetrate deep into the lungs, where they can cause cardiovascular and lung disease. Children and seniors particularly are at risk.
Finally, the obvious problem: noise! It’s annoying, and it can cause hearing loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies leaf blowers as a hazard that can lead to hearing damage with as little as two hours of exposure, and permanent loss for professional landscapers.
Let’s clear the air: no gas-powered leaf blowers!
Concord resident, owner of Concord-based Manero Brothers Landscaping
I am against the proposal to ban on gas-powered leaf blowers in Concord because it does not aid efficiency or cost, and would be unfair to residents of our town. Without gas blowers, our customers would be forced to pay more than double the cost for lawn mowing and triple the cost for a spring or fall yard cleanup.
The town of Concord is a beautiful, historic community with a competitive real estate market. That market is dependent in part on having well-maintained lawns. At the core of this maintenance are the tools — including the gas-powered leaf blowers — that provide the necessary efficiencies to keep the greenery in our town in pristine condition.
Should a ban be adopted, alongside the increase in cost for customers would come a detrimental increase in labor for landscaping employees, potentially doubling efforts for a simple cleanup. I consider my company to be a small and local business, so to double our efforts would mean that the amount of cleanups would have to decrease. In this instance, our business and similar ones would continue to get smaller with this leaf blower ban in place.
Additionally, this proposed ban is discriminatory because it would allow the Concord Department of Public Works to continue to use them on public property while shutting out local private landscaping companies. The DPW argues that its eight gas blowers are a critical tool in maintaining the 50 acres of public land that they are responsible for and that there is no adequate alternative machine on the market right now.
The electric blowers available on the market today may be suitable for a homeowner but they do not deliver the industrial power that we need. We utilize the most efficient and powerful blowers available and all are certified by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
I urge you to stand with me against this proposed ban to eliminate gas-powered leaf blowers for landscapers. We must ensure that the town of Concord continues to be well-maintained in an efficient, cost-effective, and fair way, and our continued ability to use this tool is essential to that.
(This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.)As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.