In my neighborhood, landscape contractors now use leaf blowers year-round to move garden debris — even snow. They obsessively blow and scour all loose matter from lawns, sidewalks, driveways and streets. Blowers are used even when people generally prefer peace and quiet — early mornings, evenings, weekends. Working at home, I hear leaf blower noise for hours most days.
Leaf blowers produce extreme levels of nuisance noise and air pollution. Volume exceeds 75 decibels at 50 feet, and landscapers often run two or more simultaneously. The Environmental Protection Agency states that this noise level degrades quality of life. In one hour, a gas-powered two-cycle leaf blower produces as much pollution as a car driven 100 miles. Blowers stir up clouds of dust, pollen, molds and other harmful allergens.
There are no benefits to leaf blowers. In fact, they damage landscaping — desiccating air blown at 150 mph injures plants and removes beneficial organics from the ground.
Communities nationwide have banned leaf blowers. Pittsburgh should do likewise. Until then, landscapers can voluntarily stop their use of these nuisance machines out of courtesy to both people and the environment.
Property owners can help by instructing their contractors to stop using leaf blowers. In lieu of blowers, rakes, brooms and shovels work perfectly well. People subject to the effects of blower nuisance noise will be grateful for a switch to quieter tools. The environment will also benefit from a switch to nonpolluting tools, and a few specks of leaves or grass left behind will cause no harm!