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 

 

Air Pollution 

 

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. 

 

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. 

 

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 broadcastcovers 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. Adetailed report and press release are also available. 

 

 

Noise Pollution 

Scientific Studies 

  • 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 Noiseas 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). 

 

Fact Sheets and Flyers 

Guidelines 

  • Guidelines for Community Noise. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1999. Berglund B, Lindvall 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. 

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. 

 

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. 

 

Educational Websites 

 

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, Articles 

State Medical Societies 

 

Physicians Groups 

 

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. 

 

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 

 

Physicians 

 

Worker Health 

 

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 

QCI Letters 

QCI Blogs 

Grand Jury Reports 

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 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 

Media 

 

Gas Leaf Blower Use: Industry Guidance 

 

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. 

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