Occasionally, even nanny governments get something right.
Case in point?
Washington, D.C.’s city council recently voted to ban gas-powered leaf blowers (GLBs).
When we lived there, I’d often see municipal workers and ninny landscapers trying to look “busy” using these noisy, dirty contraptions. But you could tell they weren’t really accomplishing anything outside of making a lot of noise and blowing a lot of hot air—literally. (Seems to be a common theme in the nation’s capital.)
And truthfully, while I’m pleased that D.C. banned these dreadful machines, I’d like to see the entire country follow suit, as they pose three serious dangers to your health and to the environment…
1.) They disrupt natural habitats
GLBs disrupt fallen leaves, plant “debris,” and other critical organic matter in which countless species of bugs and critters normally need to make their homes. This natural, organic matter also enriches the soil, if left alone.
In addition, according to the Audubon Society, in environments with elevated, artificial noise, bird populations decline. Specifically, the loud noises from these machines make it difficult for the birds to hear predators or potential mates. They also elevate the birds’ stress hormones, which impacts their health and reproduction.
One can only assume that other animals—including humans—react to the noise pollution in the same way! In fact, the human ear starts to suffer severe hearing loss after being exposed to just 15 minutes a day of the level of noise that comes from these ubiquitous machines. (No wonder the American Public Health Association has determined that environmental noise pollution is the new “second-hand smoke!”)
GLBs also send particulate matter into the air, including hydrocarbons from gasoline, animal droppings, spores, fungi, pollens, pesticides and herbicides, fertilizers, brake-lining dust and tire residue, and heavy metals.
In fact, in just one hour, one GLB pumps about five pounds of this harmful matter into the air, which poses a serious threat to your respiratory system. And according to some experts, this particulate matter is by far the greatest hidden health risk to the general population.
This helps explain why lung disease is still the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S.—despite the crack-down on smoking! (You can learn more about hidden causes of lung diseases and how to prevent—and even reverse—them in my Breathe Better Lung Health Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!)
2.) They pump out more pollution than cars and trucks!
The two-stroke engines in gas-powered lawn machines, such as leaf blowers and trimmers, are highly inefficient. They burn an oil-gas mixture and emit ozone-forming chemicals, pollutants, and irritants. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these machines consume nearly two billion gallons of gas each year and produce about 13 billion pounds of toxic, cancer-causing pollutants and respiratory irritants—including 41 billion pounds of carbon dioxide.
Plus, according to a 2011 study, leaf blowers emit nearly 300 times the amount of air pollutants as a mid-size pickup truck.
3.) Even routine maintenance is a nightmare for the environment
Using GLBs releases untold amounts of inorganic and organic toxins and solid wastes, including detergents, degreasers, and lubricants, into our landfills, which eventually ends up polluting our soil, air, and water.
Worse yet, when workers attempt to refuel these gas-powered machines, they spill about 17 million gallons of gas each year into the immediate environment. Which is roughly 50 percent more than the amount spilled into Prince William Sound, Alaska by the infamous Exxon Valdez oil tanker. And it happens every single year!
Not to mention all the dirty used hoses, filters, plugs, and old machines themselves, which can’t be recycled and just end up in a landfill.
At least when you take your automobile in for maintenance, there are strict procedures for disposing and recycling oil, batteries, and other wastes. (Of course, you’re charged a pretty penny for this “service,” even after already paying for the municipal waste facilities in your property taxes.) And used cars are often stripped for parts!
In the end, these machines are awful for your health and for the environment. And they’re simply unnecessary. So please think twice before purchasing or using them.
Instead, consider sweeping up your leaves and lawn debris the old-fashioned way—with a broom or rake. And if you feel you must use a machine, at the very least, consider an electrical or battery-powered alternative.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge our family friend Jill Bellenger of Pittsford, New York, for her experience, knowledge, and inspiration on this topic. If you’d like to learn more about the hazards GLBs pose to your health and to the environment, check out my full report, with Jill’s insight, in the March 2020 issue of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter (“The backyard chore linked to hearing loss, asthma…even increased cancer risk!”). If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now’s the perfect time to get started.
“Lifestyle Eco-Actions: Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers.” Sierra Club 8/5/17. (sierraclub.org/loma-prieta/blog/2017/08/lifestyle-eco-actions-gas-powered-leaf-blowers)
“Gas consumption and emissions.” Quiet Communities, accessed 2/14/20. (quietcommunities.org/environmental-impact-qc/)
“Air district report: Leaf blowers present health risks.” The Almanac, 8/31/15. (almanacnews.com/news/2015/08/31/air-district-report-leaf-blowers-present-health-risks)
“Loud Noise Can Cause Hearing Loss Quickly or Over Time.” Centers for Disease Control, 10/7/19. (cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html)