March 27, 2013

Hoping Princeton Will Join Other Towns In Considering Regulating Leaf Blowers

To the Editor:

A rapidly growing number of municipalities across the country have regulated or are considering regulations to curb the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Cambridge, Mass., Greenwich Conn., Montclair, N.J., Palm Beach, Fla., Evanston, Ill., Boulder, Colorado, and Houston, Texas, are only a few of the more than 400 cities and towns where citizens are working to sensibly manage these highly polluting machines.

Here are some facts about leaf blowers. I present them in the hope that Princeton residents will consider — or ask their lawn-care professionals to consider — using gas-powered leaf blowers judiciously, or perhaps not at all.

1. In one year, a single leaf blower can emit as much soot and other air pollution as 80 cars. The majority of this pollution remains concentrated in the neighborhood where the leaf blower is used. Children at play, the elderly, and those who suffer with asthma can be particularly affected.

2. Leaf blowers indiscriminately used throughout a neighborhood create a level of noise that is usually only acceptable in short-term-exposure industrial situations. Each one generally operates at about 70-75 decibels — or more. According to the EPA, the noise level considered acceptable in residential areas is about 60 decibels. Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder.

3. Leaf blowers worsen allergies and asthma and irritate the lungs. Besides emitting particulate matter (soot) derived from petroleum combustion, leaf blowers stir up mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise would be tamped down by rain and decomposition.

4. By disturbing a fragile ecosystem of top soil, leaf blowers, ironically, are not very good for lawns.

5. They waste gas.

6. Leaf blowers make it hard to hear birds singing, bees buzzing, crickets chirping, and Princeton’s summer breezes.

Clean-air lawn care is the way to go!

Jill Feldman

Harriet Drive