This page contains important scientific, educational, legal and other informational resources for communities on gas powered lawn and garden equipment and their impacts on our health and environment.

Some resources are repeated in more than one category for ease of accessibility.

General
Emissions from Lawn and Garden Equipment
Noise Pollution and Health
Air Pollution and Health
Medical Resolutions, Endorsements, and Articles
Worker Health
Legal / Regulatory
Gas Leaf Blower Use: Industry Guidance
Impact on Animals and Environment
General

Fact Sheet: Gas Leaf Blowers by Quiet Communities, Inc. (2019). A fully referenced set of facts on gas leaf blowers and their impacts, last revised 2/28/19.

The Top Landscaping Trends of 2018 from the National Association of Landscape Professionals includes quieter, eco-friendly electric equipment.

Emissions from Lawn and Garden Equipment
Scientific Studies

National Emissions from Lawn and Garden Equipment (2015) quantifies annual levels of toxic and carcinogenic exhaust emissions produced by gas-powered lawn and garden equipment ranging from leaf blowers and string trimmers to lawn mowers to heavy turf equipment. It was presented at the 2015 International Emissions Inventory Conference (San Diego, CA).

Landscape Maintenance Equipment Emissions and Children’s Health (2017). This study was presented at the Children’s Environmental Health Network Research Conference, Arlington, VA, April 6, 2017. It quantifies the levels of exhaust emissions produced by equipment used routinely around our homes, schools, and parks – leaf blowers, edgers, trimmers, cutters and mowers. Health risks associated with those emissions are described.

Carbonaceous species emitted from handheld two-stroke engines (2008) and Emissions profile from new and in-use handheld, 2-stroke engines. (2007). These scientific studies authored by Dr. John Volckens (Colorado State U) and co-workers, published in the journal, Atmospheric Environment, document the various exhaust emissions from 2-stroke engines like leaf blowers, string trimmers, and other handheld tools and discusses their potential effects. Among other things, the 2008 article states: “Operators of handheld engines—when without the proper protection—may be exposed to excessively high concentrations of these emissions; the analog emissions from gasoline-powered equipment (i.e., gasoline-powered vehicles) have become a serious public health issue.” The abstracts are available for free; the full publications must be purchased from the journal.

Air Contaminant Exposures During Operation of Lawn and Garden Equipment (2006) published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology measured the exposure of equipment operators to air toxics and fine particulates. The authors found that operators are likely to be exposed to unsafe levels, depending on circumstances.

Educational Fact Sheets and Flyers
Fact Sheet: Gas Leaf Blowers by Quiet Communities, Inc. (2019). A fully referenced set of facts on gas leaf blowers and their impacts, last revised 2/28/19.

Small Off-Road Engine Fact Sheet from the California Air Resources Board (2017). The latest figures show there are more lawn and garden engines in California today than there are passenger cars and emissions from an hour of gas leaf blower operation are equivalent to 1,100 miles in a 2016 Toyota Camry. Despite being much cleaner today, the pollution from these engines is prompting CARB to take action to reduce gas powered lawn and garden equipment.

TV, Video, Radio and Print Media

Noisy, But That’s Not All: Leaf Blowers Flagged as Prodigious Polluters — And Possible Health Threat (2017). This detailed investigative journalism report explores emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn and garden engines and focused on the dangers to workers. Statements from with workers and health experts attest to the dangers from the emissions. An independent test of several commercial gas leaf blowers show excessive levels of ultrafine particle emissions.  A TV broadcast covers much the same ground and features health experts at California health and environmental agencies.

More Pollution than Cars? Gas Powered Gardening Equipment is the Next Air Quality Threat (2017). This audio report heard on NPR stations throughout the country describes the growing problem of pollution from leaf blowers and other small gas engines. An interview with California environmental officials states that by 2020, these engines will create more ozone pollution than all of the passenger cars in the state.

Leaf Blower vs. Ford Raptor Truck. A head-to-head comparison of emissions from a 2-stroke leaf blower, a 4-stroke leaf blowers, a Fiat 500, and a Ford Raptor truck, conducted at a AAA Emissions Testing laboratory.  In a nutshell – the 2-stroke leaf blower produced 299 times as much non-methane hydrocarbons, twice as much nitrogen oxides, and 23 times as much carbon monoxide. Operating the 2-stroke blower 30 minutes produces the same amount of hydrocarbons as driving the Raptor 3,900 miles from Texas to Alaska. A detailed report and press release are also available.

Noise Pollution and Health
Major Scientific Reports and Articles

Ambient Noise Is “The New Secondhand Smoke” (2019). This review by Dr Dan Fink, QC Health Advisor and Founder of The Quiet Coalition, evaluates the evidence on noise levels and their effects on auditory and non-auditory health in the Fall issue of Acoustics Today.

Lawn and Garden Equipment Sound: A Comparison of Gas and Battery Electric Equipment (2018) This scientific acoustic study, published in the Journal of Environmental and Toxicological Studies, is a direct, head-to-head comparison of the sound levels and frequencies of leading commercial gas and battery electric leaf blowers. The ability of the sound from each type to travel over distance and affect communities is assessed and explained.

Environmental Noise and the Cardiovascular System (2018). This review article from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology by cardiologist Thomas Munzel and associates, focuses on the mechanisms and the epidemiology of noise-induced cardiovascular diseases and explains how noise damages the cardiovascular system.

Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Sound and Impact on Children (2017). This poster, presented at the Children’s Environmental Health Network Conference in Washington, DC discusses the harm that noise from gas leaf blowers can have on the health of our most vulnerable population – our children.

Too Loud! For Too Long! (2017). This report from the US Centers for Disease Control describes sources of harmful environmental noise, highlighting lawn and garden equipment, and includes a powerful infographic.

Characteristics of Lawn and Garden Equipment Sound (2017). In this pilot study published in the Journal of Environmental and Toxicological Studies by researchers Erica Walker and Jamie Banks, the reasons for the negative reactions caused by leaf blower sound is explained.

What is a Safe Noise Level for the Public? (2016) In this 2016 article by Dr. Dan Fink in the American Journal of Public Health, he dispels the notion that the 85 decibel occupational noise threshold is a safe level for the public. The actual level is much lower.

Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health (2014). A comprehensive scientific review article by Dr. Mathias Basner in  The Lancet, a premier medical journal, describing the effects of noise on hearing as well as non-hearing health — for example, blood pressure and heart disease.

Environmental noise pollution in the United States: Developing an effective public health response. (2014). A scientific article by Monica Hammer and colleagues on the public health problem of environmental noise and the need for effective health policies and prevention. Over 100 Americans are being exposed on a daily basis to noise levels that can cause hearing damage, heart problems, and other adverse health issues.  Co-author Dr. Rick Neitzel and colleague’s 2015 article — Valuing Quiet: An Economic Assessment of U.S. Environmental Noise as a Cardiovascular Health Hazard — estimates that the US spends $3.9 billion every year on noise-related cardiac problems.

Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise (2011). An extensive report from the World Health Organization describing and quantifying the health impact of environmental noise in Western Europe.

Leaf Blower Noise (2004). A group of Finnish researchers studying sound levels from lawn and garden equipment found dangerously highest noise exposure levels, especially from machines powered by 2-stroke engines, e.g. leaf blowers and brush cutters. Noise emissions of leaf blowers varied between 102-111 dB(A).

Educational Fact Sheets and Flyers

Fact Sheet: Gas Leaf Blowers by Quiet Communities, Inc. (2019). A fully referenced set of facts on gas leaf blowers and their impacts, last revised 2/28/19.

Noise, an educational flyer from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (2017) identifies unsafe noise levels and their sources in the environment, including leaf blowers.

Tips for a Quieter Home (2017). Tips for a quieter home from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders include reducing outdoor landscape maintenance noise.

Hearing Loss: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment (2016). In this Special Report from Harvard Medical School, gas leaf blowers and lawn mowers are noted prominently as sources of noise that cause hearing damage.

Understanding Noise Exposure Limits: Occupational vs General Environmental Noise (2016). This blog by researchers from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health distinguishes between safe environmental noise exposure (70 dB, 24 hr average) from occupational (85 dB, 8 hr/day, during working year). Please note that these levels are limits to prevent hearing loss, not other non-hearing health problems.

Quick Facts: Environmental Noise Exposure and Hearing Loss from Quiet Communities, May 2016

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (2014). This fact sheet from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders describes noise sources at home that are harmful to children’s hearing, including gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers.

Noise and Its Effects on Children (2009). This educational flyer from the US Environmental Protection Agency describes the dangers of high levels of noise for children’s health and hearing, and includes leaf blowers as a source.

Guidelines

Guidelines for Community Noise. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1999. Berglund B, indvall T, Schwela DH (Eds). Nearly 20 years old but still the most recent guidelines out there. This provide a rich compendium of information on what constitutes safe noise levels in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor settings as well the scientific rationale being them. Well worth a careful read.

Air Pollution and Health

Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment emit copious amounts of toxic and carcinogenic substances that include ozone-forming chemicals — volatile organic compounds like benzene and nitrogen oxides — as well as carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter.  Here are some of the important resources that speak to the health effects of these emissions.

Major Scientific Reports

Air Pollution and Cancer (2013). A major report from the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization on air pollution concluding that fine particulate matter is a human carcinogen.

Integrated Science Assessment of Ozone and Related Photochemical Oxidants (2013) is the EPA’s comprehensive and systematic evaluation of evidence on the adverse effects of ozone pollution and provides the basis for the nation’s air quality standards.

Provisional Assessment of Recent Studies on Health Effects of Particulate Matter Exposure (2012). An extensive scientific report from the US Environmental Protection Agency examining the large body of evidence on fine particulate matter and harm to health.

Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease (2010). A scientific consensus statement from the American Heart Association on the link between fine particulate matter in the air and cardiovascular disease. Published in the journal, Circulation.

Educational Websites

Health Effects of Ozone in the General Population (2016). An EPA website that provides an evidence-based summary of the adverse effects of ground level ozone ranging from lung disease to heart disease to premature death.

Health Effects of Ozone in Patients with Asthma and Other Chronic Respiratory Disease (2016). A related EPA website describing the health effects on some of the most vulnerable populations — patients with asthma and other respiratory disorders.

Educational Fact Sheets and Flyers

Fact Sheet: Gas Leaf Blowers by Quiet Communities, Inc. (2019). A fully referenced set of facts on gas leaf blowers and their impacts, last revised 2/28/19.

Particle Pollution and Health (2012). A 3-page fact sheet from the EPA describing the thousands of studies showing fine particle pollution is harmful to health.

Protect Yourself: 10 Tips (2017). Recommendations from the American Lung Association on how to protect your lungs from air pollution. One recommendations is to avoid the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Heart Disease, Stroke, and Outdoor Air Pollution (2015). An educational flyer from the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, and US Environmental Protection Agency with recommendations on reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke from outdoor air pollution.

Danger in the Air: Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease (2014). A fact sheet from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association on fossil fuels as a major source of air pollution and a cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

TV, Radio, and Print Media

Noisy, But That’s Not All: Leaf Blowers Flagged as Prodigious Polluters — And Possible Health Threat (2017). This detailed investigative journalism report explores emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn and garden engines and focused on the dangers to workers. Statements from with workers and health experts attest to the dangers from the emissions. An independent test of several commercial gas leaf blowers show excessive levels of ultrafine particle emissions.  A TV broadcast covers much the same ground and features health experts at California health and environmental agencies.

Medical Resolutions, Endorsements, and Articles
State Medical Society Resolutions

Resolution from the Mass Medical Society (2017) on gas leaf blowers

Resolution from the New York State Medical Society (2016) on gas leaf blowers

Physicians Groups

A Clean Air Blueprint Ban for Utah: 19 Proposals to Ensure a Healthy, Prosperous Future (2017) The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) recommends eliminating the use of polluting lawn equipment and having the state join the local governments that have banned the sale of two-stroke, gas-powered lawn and garden equipment, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and snow blowers.

Fresno-Madera Medical Society’s Air Quality Program recommends switching to an electric-powered lawn mower and getting rid of the leaf blower which “throws all kinds of junk into the air,” including particulate matter, and having your gardener sweep instead of blowing.

Local Medical Organizations

The resources below were obtained through the hard work of Bonnie Sager, OD, and Lucy Weinstein, MD, MPH, co-founders of the group, Huntington CALM.

NYS Center of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health at Stony Brook letter (2015). Thanks to Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager of Huntington CALM.

Clean and Healthy NY letter (2015). Thanks to Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager of Huntington CALM.

Asthma Coalition of Long Island letter (2014). Thanks to Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager of Huntington CALM.

Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition letter (2014). Thanks to Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager of Huntington CALM.

American Lung Association in NY letter (2013). hanks to Lucy Weinstein and Bonnie Sager of Huntington CALM.

When Eastchester, NY wanted to restrict gas leaf blower use, it turned to the leading children’s environmental health group at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Mt Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Letter (2010). A letter of support for communities signed by every physician at the Pediatric Environmental Health Special Unit at Mount Sinai Hospitals on the dangers to children posed by gas-powered leaf blowers.

Hospitals

Stony Brook University Hospital, letter from the CEO on gas leaf blowers in response to Dr. Lucy Weinstein, co-founder of Huntington CALM and Chair, Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapter 2 (NY)

Physicians

Time to Voluntarily Restrict Gas-Powered Leaf-Blowers, Trimmers, an article by cardiologist, Lawrence Block to his community of Swampscott, MA.

Ban Leafblowers! by Dr. Andrew Weil. The popular physician

 

 

 

Worker Health

Noisy, But That’s Not All: Leaf Blowers Flagged as Prodigious Polluters — And Possible Health Threat (2017). This detailed investigative journalism report explores emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn and garden engines and focused on the dangers to workers. Statements from with workers and health experts attest to the dangers from the emissions. An independent test of several commercial gas leaf blowers show excessive levels of ultrafine particle emissions.  A TV broadcast covering much the same ground is also available.

Air Contaminant Exposures During Operation of Lawn and Garden Equipment (2006) published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology measured the exposure of equipment operators to air toxics and fine particulates. The authors found that operators are likely to be exposed to unsafe levels, depending on circumstances.

Legal / Regulatory
Legislative Testimony

Testimony Report, Daniel J Fink, MD, The Quiet Coalition, Quiet Communities Inc., Washington DC City Council, July  2019.

Testimony Report, Jamie L Banks, PhD, MS, Quiet Communities Inc., Washington DC City Council, July 2019.

Testimony Report, Chris Pollock, PE, Arup Inc., Washington DC City Council, July 2019.

EPA Regulations

Control of Emissions From Nonroad Spark-Ignition Engines and Equipment. Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Register (Oct 8, 2008). A highlighted version of the Federal Register publication explaining the latest round of emissions regulations on small spark ignition engines, including lawn and garden engines.

QC Letters

Letter to Echo Inc CEO, Tom Dorsey in response to Larry Will, July 22, 2016.

QC Blogs

Legal Challenges to Municipal Leaf Blower Ordinances (Oct 30, 2017). Examining the issue of pre-emption as it applies to local leaf blower regulations.

Landscapers Fail to Blow Municipal Ordinances Away (July 17, 2017). On the lawsuits filed in Maplewood, NJ and Newton, MA.

Local Regulation of Leaf Blower Use is a Proper Use of Police Power (March 13, 2017). A review of the court’s rationale for upholding Village Code in Scarsdale, NY.

Grand Jury Reports

Leaf Blower Hazards in San Luis Obispo County. The 2009-2010 San Luis Obispo Grand Jury Report.

Leaf Blower Pollution Hazards in Orange County. The Orange County, CA Grand Jury Report.

Legal Cases and Opinions

A detailed memorandum from Chapel Hill, NC’s Town Attorney on issues to consider in regulating gas powered leaf blowers (2004).

People vs Trolio, 170 Misc.2d 1017 (1996) in which the court determines the Village Code in Scarsdale, NY limiting the use of gas leaf blowers is not unconstitutional and determined that the legislation was  was the result of a thorough and lengthy investigation.

Insurance Perspective

When It’s Dry, Pollutants Multiply from Beacon Hill Associates, an insurance agency (Charlottesville, VA) identifying pollutant sources, who is responsible, and what actions can be taken. Landscaping is  explicitly mentioned as a potential source of pollutants.

Blogs

State and Local Regulation of Leaf Blowers (2015). Massachusetts Law Updates. Official Blog of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.

Media

Attorney General Approves Arlington Leaf Blower Ban, Boston Globe, Oct 22, 2012.

Judge Upholds Ban on Leaf Blowers, March 17, 1998. An article on the superior court decision upholding the city of Los Angeles ban on leaf blowers.

Impact on Animals and Environment
Pets and Animals

Letter from Veterinarian Vallard Forsythe, DVM (2016) of Broadway Veterinary Hospital (Sonoma, CA), describing the deleterious effects of leaf blowers on pets and small animals. The letter was obtained by members of the group, Sonoma CALM.

NY/Long Island Environmental Endorsements

The resources below were obtained through the hard work of Bonnie Sager, OD, and Lucy Weinstein, MD, MPH, co-founders of the group, Huntington CALM.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment letter (2015)

Grassroots Environmental Education letter (2014)

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society letter

Sierra Club, Long Island letter (2014)

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