Now that local landscapers are gearing up for spring cleaning, it’s the right time for property owners to consider “low-impact” maintenance work. That means working without gas-powered leaf blowers, especially since it is safer, healthier, and more sustainable. It’s also much nicer to your neighbors not to hear the noise.
The Village of Larchmont is the first municipality in the Northeast to ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers at all times and to limit the use of electric blowers. The Larchmont Board of Trustees recently approved “a grace period” that allows for the use of electric- powered blowers in the Village as early as March 15, 2022 to April 30, 2022 for spring clean-up, and October 15 to December 15 for fall clean-up.
Meanwhile, the Town of Mamaroneck has banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30. And the Village of Mamaroneck has a ban on all blowers (gas and electric) from May 15 to September 30.
The City of New Rochelle will soon announce a new electric leaf-blowing program, according to Sara Kaye, New Rochelle Deputy Mayor and District 5 City Council member. Currently New Rochelle bans gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30. However, an informal neighborhood survey of some property owners revealed they had no idea there was such a ban. The same may be true for landscapers.
It’s confusing in New Rochelle because gas-powered blowers can be used from October 1 to May 31, but only within the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. How any of these restrictions are enforced is unclear.
The Larchmont ban is the result of a four-year outreach campaign by The Larchmont Environmental Committee to explain the mounting evidence regarding the hazards of leaf blowers. According to Lisa McDonald, Co-Chair of the Village of Larchmont Environmental Committee, these hazards include:
- The noise from gasoline-powered leaf blowers is decibels higher than the CDC limit for adverse effects and over time can damage hearing.
- Gas-powered blowers produce more harmful greenhouse gas emissions than large cars. In fact, the pollution from just one hour of gas-powered leaf blower use is equivalent to driving 1100 miles in an average car.
- When gases and particulates are inhaled by landscape crews, residents, neighbors, and passers-by, they create public health hazards by producing large amounts of carbon monoxide and ozone-forming chemicals that contribute to smog and are highly toxic to our lungs.
- They damage the environment, as hurricane-force
air currents dry out soil and plants and destroy insect and wildlife habitat;
They create social and environmental justice issues: crews are exposed to health hazards often without their knowledge, protection, or power to object.
At a recent workshop on low-impact landscaping in Larchmont, two leading experts, Dan Mabe, founder of the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA), and Jamie Banks, PhD., founder and president of Quiet Communities Inc., described ways homeowners and landscapers can better comply with new municipal leaf blower codes and how they can implement clean, quiet, and sustainable practices that provide immediate health and safety benefits.
photo: Rye Sustainability
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.