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In support of ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, for health reasons

From: domainremoved <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:15:18 -0800

Dear City Council,

It has come to my attention that a group of Menlo Park residents are supporting an ordinance that would ban gas-powered leaf blowers in our City. I strongly support this effort, mostly to eliminate the health hazards associated with leaf blower exhaust (more detail below). I have long wanted to raise this important issue with the City. With strong precedents for this ban in Palo Alto and Portola Valley, please note the following:

1. Gas-powered leaf-blowers are well-documented sources of significant air pollution, causing health concern for residents and gardeners. The exhaust contains nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter, all of which contribute to heart disease, asthma (especially for young children) and cancer.
 

2. The air pollution contribution is *much* more concentrated than that from gas-powered cars:

"In leaf blowers, two-stroke engines have been shown to emit contaminants comparable to large automobiles. A 2011 test by the car experts at Edmunds showed that “a consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor <
http://www.edmunds.com/about/press/leaf-blowers-emissions-dirtier-than-high-performance-pick-up-trucks-says-edmunds-insidelinecom.html>.” The company subjected a truck, a sedan, a four-stroke and a two-stroke leaf blower to automotive emissions tests and found that under normal usage conditions — alternating the blower between high power and idle, for example — the two-stroke engine emitted nearly 299 times the hydrocarbons of the pickup truck and 93 times the hydrocarbons of the sedan. The blower emitted many times as much carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides as well. The four-stroke engine performed significantly better than the two-stroke in most of the categories, but still far worse than the car engines.”

Washington Post, 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-bad-for-the-environment-are-gas-powered-leaf-blowers/2013/09/16/8eed7b9a-18bb-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc84e99c5299 <https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-bad-for-the-environment-are-gas-powered-leaf-blowers/2013/09/16/8eed7b9a-18bb-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.dc84e99c5299>

Another WSJ article that documents the air pollution in discussion:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/leaf-blowers-are-loud-ugly-and-dangerous-1539903772 <https://www.wsj.com/articles/leaf-blowers-are-loud-ugly-and-dangerous-1539903772>


3. Gas-powered leaf-blowing is surprising ubiquitous in our City. My daughter and I walk through significant patches of exhaust on our walk home from Oak Knoll, probably 8 times out of 10, and I dislike this exposure on her young lungs. In our home, we find that one of our many neighbors has a leaf-blower going every day, and we typically hear leaf blowers from different sources from our home several times a day. This means that I often open windows and doors to get fresh air in the house, then promptly shut them after hearing the blowers and realizing that the air outside is likely to be full of exhaust. It’s the *minority* share of times that I open my windows and hear no leaf blowing, believe it or not!


As with all social change, adjustments will be needed. Gardeners and homeowners will find ways to replace gas powered leaf blowers with electric ones and find outside plugs as sources of power. Good old fashioned rakes may re-emerge. Please ensure that the ordinance is also crafted in a way that prevents gardeners from using truck-mounted generators to power their electric leaf blowers; this will only make air pollution problems worse, not better.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Angela Evans, Menlo Park resident
Received on Tue Jan 22 2019 - 09:12:01 PST

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