1.Air Pollution. A gasoline-powered leaf blower
generates as much tailpipe emissions in one hour as an
automobile does over 350 miles. The difference is that a
car emits all that pollution over a big stretch of road,
while a leaf blower deposits it all in one back or front
2.Dangerous chemicals. Leaf blowers spread dust, dirt,
animal droppings, herbicides and pesticides into your air,
over your cars and into the windows of your home.
3.Noise. Blowers whine “like dental drills done beserk,”
said the Detroit Free-Press. Added the Christian
Science Monitor: “Blowers blare and screech, kick up
dirt and dust and accomplish nothing.”
4.Ineffectiveness. Leaf blowers serve no other use than
to move garbage onto neighbors’ property (where other
gardeners often blow them back.) People should not have
to wash their cars, their windows and sweep their walks
repeatedly simply because using a leaf blower is more
convenient to their neighbor's gardener.
5.Quality of life. Night workers who sleep during the
day, retired persons, students who need quiet time to
write or study, pregnant and new mothers and people
who telecommute all need to minimize the loud noises
which increasingly assail them during the daytime hours.
The current Manhattan Beach ordinance—where blowers
are allowed from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through
Friday—assumes that all of the above people don’t exist.
6.Health concerns. Cal OSHA allows only 20 minutes of
aggregate daily exposure to a noise level over 100
decibels, while most gardeners run their blowers at 109,
for most of the day. Clearly, most gardeners use leaf
blowers far in excess of the level Cal OSHA recommends
as safe to the operator.
7.Availability of alternate equipment. Gardeners could
continue to use electric blowers if they do not wish to use
rakes and brooms—which were sufficient prior to the
invention of the leaf blower. Electric blowers weigh less,
will cause less operator fatigue and do not pollute. The
noise they produce is of a less offensive variety than gas
blowers because it is steadier and does not rise and fall in
8.Track record of other cities. City managers and
attorneys in Malibu, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Del
Mar and Claremont all say that for the most part,
gardeners have stopped using leaf blowers in their cities,
rates have not gone up and that life has been much more
peaceful—and healthier, for it.
9.Environmental damage. Gasoline leaf
blowers—which have a muzzle velocity of 150 miles per
hour or more—blow away topsoil and ground cover
which, if left in place, would help soil to hold precious
moisture and would minimize the number of times plants
have to be watered. This is crucial, especially in drought
10. Absence of hard data about adverse impacts in
other cities. The standard refrain from gardeners is that
they would have to increase their rates if they couldn’t
use their blowers. Yet there’s no evidence of that
happening in L.A. or any other cities that have banned
blowers. To those who say rates would go up without
blowers, consider this: did these same gardeners lower
their rates in the 1980s after they began using blowers?
Grandmother Proves Rake and Broom as Fast as Leaf Blowers
(January 8, 1998 press release from Zero Air Pollution, Los Angeles)
In fighting the ban on gas powered leaf blowers gardeners have argued that it would take them twice as long to do jobs if they had to use rakes and brooms. But Diane Wolfberg, a Palisadian grandmother in her late 50s, proved them wrong in tests conducted by the Department of Water & Power Leafblower Task Force last Thursday.
In three tests involving gas powered leaf blowers and battery powered leaf blowers, Diane cleaned the areas using rakes or brooms faster than any of the battery powered blowers and almost as fast as the gas powered leaf blowers and she did a better job in cleaning up the areas.
The Task Force, formed at the direction of the Los Angeles City Council, is composed of two representatives from the gardeners' associations and one representative each from the landscape contractors association, the dealers, DWP, the Department of Parks and Recreation, General Services, the City Council, and the homeowners. It is evaluating electrical alternatives to the gas powered leaf blowers. When it was proposed that the electrical equipment be tested against gas powered leaf blowers which would be the baseline for comparison, the homeowner representative, Jack Allen, also of the Palisades, suggested that rakes and brooms be included in the comparison.
Wolfberg, who like Allen, is a member of Zero Air Pollution (ZAP), volunteered.
In the first test, which required each
participant to clean a pebbled cement patio area approximately 100 square feet in size with eight chairs placed on the
patio, diminutive Wolfberg cleaned the area in two minutes and 30 seconds. The gas powered leaf blower operated by a large, well muscled gardener cleaned the area in two minutes but like all the leaf blowers, did not clean the area of small nuts or leaf stems, something Wolfberg was able to do.
In a second test involving the moving of paper cups and wadded paper
down a 50 foot slope and back up again, she
was as fast as the gas powered leaf blower and faster than the electric blowers. In the third test, requiring the cleaning of a heavy bed of pine needles and dirt down a thirty foot concrete ramp, she was the fastest and the cleanest. The leaf blowers all sent columns of damp dirt flying into the air as much as five or six feet.
Wolfberg's performance did not impress the gardeners but did impress
others who had been convinced that using rakes and brooms was not feasible.
The representative from DWP told Wolfberg that she had won him over.