Los Altos banned gas-powered leaf blowers in 1991, Palo Alto in 2000, and Los Gatos in 2014. In January 2019, Portola Valley passed a ban with a two-year phase-in period; the Atherton City Council has already had this on its agenda twice so far this year.
We invite Menlo Park to follow suit. Phasing out gas-powered leaf blowers is an easy step to reduce our carbon emissions — and bring some quiet to our neighborhoods. Battery-powered garden tools are significantly quieter than their gas-powered equivalent — and have been improving. For information from AGZA American Green Zone Data, sourced from WHO, EPA, NIOSH, OSHA, ANSI, American Lung Association and Quiet Communities.com, go to tinyurl.com/leafblowers-31.
Gas-powered leaf blowers use an inefficient polluting two-stroke engine that lacks a separate lubrication system. The oil is mixed in with the gasoline it uses for fuel. They are designed to be air-cooled, causing the engine to spew one-third of its fuel as an unburned aerosol directly into the environment.
Not only do gas blowers' greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions contribute to our climate crisis, but the resulting carbon monoxide compromises our brains, particulate matter harms our lungs and hearts, nitrous oxide hurt our throats, and hydrocarbons irritate our throats, noses and eyes.
Not only are gasoline blowers far greater ozone and particulate polluters than the four-stroke engines in gas-powered automobiles, their VOCs (hydrocarbons) emissions are carcinogenic.
Last but not least, their noise pollution damages our nervous system and hearing.
According to the California Air Resource Board, operating the best-selling commercial gas leaf blower for just one hour emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2017 Toyota Camry about 1,100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver.
Also of concern is that gardeners are directly exposing themselves to multiple toxins and continuous loud decibel levels, often not wearing protective gear such as dust face masks and or noise reduction safety earmuffs or earplugs.
By phasing out gas-powered leaf blowers, the Menlo Park City Council would be tangibly demonstrating our city's commitment to our Climate and Sustainability Resolution, which Mayor Ray Mueller signed on Earth Day last April.
It's time for Menlo Park to follow the majority of our neighboring cities and towns and transition to electric blowers. Lithium-ion battery technology has advanced to a level where the commercial electric leaf blower is now comparable in power to the gas blower but without the carbon emissions and other air pollutants, while being significantly quieter.
We invite all interested Menlo Park residents to join our "go electric" coalition to let our City Council know that we want them to take this important step forward. To make sure your voice is heard, please contact Lisa Williams at [email protected] or Leah Elkins at [email protected]
Lisa Williams has lived in the Linfield Oaks neighborhood for over 31 years. Leah Elkins has lived raised and her family in the Willows neighborhood over the past 22 years.
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