Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Can Present Major Health Issues

By PEPPER EDMISTON and

DR. DORENE OPAVA-RUTTER

People in Southern California are breathing air filled with smoke from the wildfires. Many are wearing masks to stop the particulate matter from entering their lungs, but there is a current danger that many are ignoring or are unaware: gas-powered leaf blowers.

A simple way to decrease air pollutants is say “No!” to these  leaf blowers.

Adverse health effects from garden equipment emissions are well known: benzene,  butadiene, and formaldehyde are among the four top ranking cancer-causing compounds. They cause lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers.

These pollutants contribute to developmental and neurological disorders and air pollution has been associated with increased rates of autism.

Cancer, Asthma, Autism and Allergy rates in U.S. children are steadily rising, as are neurodevelopmental and behavior disorders. In 2019, one in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of twenty.

Much of this increase in pediatric diseases is due to children’s exposure to the 80,000+ toxic chemicals that are dispersed in our air, water, food, homes and communities.

Dangerous exposures may occur in utero, childhood or adolescence.  Embryos and children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental toxicants. Long-term health effects occur months or years after toxic exposure.

The effects of toxicity can include respiratory problems, cancer, neurological damage and reproductive effects such as birth defects, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion and infertility.

Even as the State of California works to limit emissions, a simpler solution is to ban blowers.

A six-ton Ford 150 Raptor Truck must drive 3,887 miles to produce the exhaust of one gas-powered blower used for yard work for 30 minutes, according to a March 2017 New York Times story.

If a child is playing near a gas-powered blower for a half an hour, it’s as if he or she has been standing behind a truck breathing in its exhaust, for 64 hours.

The high velocity of gas-powered blowers creates a large distribution of fugitive dust and particularte matter.  This air speed may be up to 120 mph.

Yard dust, which is blown in all directions may contain fertilizers, fungal spores, mold, pesticides, herbicides and dried animal feces.

Road dust may contain toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury, as well as soil, tire and brake particles and pollens, animal dander and molds, which cause or intensify allergies.

The airborne dust from blowers is re-suspended into the air and may remain unseen for hours to days, affecting people blocks away. Toxic matter widely distributed by blowers may settle unseen on infant and children’s outdoor play equipment or drift inside their homes.

Gas-powered blowers have been banned in L.A., within 500 feet of a residence, since 1998. They are illegal for a good reason.

Join us by becoming a vigilante for clean air:

*Demand that your landscaper stop using gas blowers. Studies show that rakes are just as efficient, especially if a gardener doesn’t follow around one little leaf.

*Tell your neighbors about the dangers of gas-blowers.

*To report violations email 311@lacity.org, and include photos of the home address, gardener’s license plate, time and date.

*Contact us at CleanAirPalisades@gmail.com

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2 Responses to Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Can Present Major Health Issues

  1. Gus says:

    Thank you for including this. This is a scourge on the Palisades. All day every day on every street these are being used!

  2. Adam Wolman says:

    We need a two-pronged approach:

    1) As many people as possible should join Clean Air Pacific Palisades. Help convince homeowners and gardeners that ditching gas blowers is the right thing to do — and also in their personal interest, not just the public’s. Even good-hearted people often put their own interests above the community’s:

    Gardeners worry about having to change routines, deal with new equipment, work longer, etc. Homeowners worry about keeping gardeners happy and not paying more for yard maintenance.

    But the consequences of doing business as usual are dire, dangerous, and disgusting.

    2) We need swift ban enforcement. (If only I had a buck for every time I politely asked people to obey the law and was rebuffed, I could move to Mars — dusty, sure, but at least for now, blower-free.) There should be serious negative consequences for breaking the law.

    CAPP’s efforts seem to have the greatest shot at succeeding on both fronts.

    It’s a breath of fresh air to know people who care have banded together to fight for a better Palisades/L.A.. If you’re not sure whether to support CAPP, learn the facts and you’ll likely be convinced. Then join, and take action!

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