leaf blowers zero air pollution
research regarding leaf blower laws
 
Justifications for Denouncing and/or Violating the Law

Efficiency

Comparisons

Fairness

Alternative Fuels

About 6 printed pages.

 



COMPLAINTS, COMMENTS AND COMPARISONS
MADE BY BLOWER SUPPORTERS

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The complaints and comments in Debate sections 1-4 have been made by blower supporters, from New York to California, from Northern to Southern California, even in Canada.  Small municipalities inexperienced in dealing with this issue may not have the resources to verify or refute these claims. 
 
The comments and comparisons in Debate section 5 have been made, or are echoed by ban advocates.

Blowers create an illusion of usefulness


JUSTIFICATIONS FOR DENOUNCING AND/OR VIOLATING THE LAW
Blowers are “total benefit to the classiness of the neighborhood.” (93.5.1)
Noise, dust and fumes make a totally UN-classy neighborhood.
Landscapers “continue to educate our employees about being considerate when using blowers.” (98.8.6)
Considerate use of blowers may make blowers tolerable for some, where there is no choice but to put up with them.  It does not reduce the air and noise pollution and their consequences.
EFFICIENCY
“Hosing down walkways and driveways is . . .more efficient than broom cleaning those surfaces” (97.6.3 California Landscape Contractors’ Association (CLAC) position paper on leaf blowers)

This cannot be claimed without specific unbiased studies.  Hosing can be the least efficient and most time-consuming clean up method of grounds keeping. 
 
Using water for grounds keeping is wasteful use of a precious resource, especially in dry climates such as Los Angeles. 
 
Rakes should be used to gather and remove leaves and larger debris.  On hardscape, brooms may then be used to remove smaller debris and dust.  Some dirt and dust can be swept back on to lawn or into garden areas.
 
Electric vacuums can be used if there is a safety reason why an area has to be perfectly clean.

Water use on walkways and driveways should be limited to those areas where such water gravitates as irrigation into lawn or bedding plants. A landscaper should be able to create such a design.

They will have to hire more workers to sweep and rake.
 
or, conversely
 
Without blowers, they will have to charge more money, will lose customers, and will have to fire workers
A landscape contractor’s association representative made both of these claims within a few minutes, in testimony before the California State Assembly Local Government Committee.
COMPARISONS
Claimed cars caused more pollution.
 
(CLCA position paper, based upon “an analysis of EPA emissions inventory data.”  The analysis was prepared for the Portable Power Equipment Mfg. Assoc. (97.6.3)
The California Air Resources Board reports on “The typical [single] leaf blower owned and operated by commercial lawn and landscape contractors. . .for the average 1999 leaf blower and car data . . ., we calculate that hydrocarbon emissions from one-half hour of leaf blower operation equal about 7,700 miles of driving, at 30 miles per hour average speed.  . . . For carbon monoxide, one-half hour of leaf blower usage . . . would be equivalent to about 440 miles of automobile travel at 30 miles per hour average speed.” (ARB Report Source)
 
In addition, according to a 1999 Orange County Grand Jury report, “Cars disperse their pollutants over long stretches of road, while a blower concentrates its pollutants in one neighborhood.  Two-stroke engine fuel is a gas-oil mixture that is especially toxic compared to automobile emissions.” (Leaf Blower Pollution Hazards in Orange County:  Source)
 
For responses to other CLCA positions, see Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento (CQS) Rebuttal to the CLCA Position on Leaf Blowers. (Source)
Electric blowers “. . .can be hazardous to operators.”
“. . .potential electric shock problem.” 
 
CLCA Position Paper, (97.6.3)
See the ZAP “The Shocking Truth” for facts that deflate that statement.
City workers can still use blowers in public parks. (98.2.4)
Yes, and landscape companies and others can still use gas blowers in shopping malls, parking lots and structures, school playgrounds, and other locations which are beyond 500 feet from a residence.  Electric blowers may be used anywhere in the City of Los Angeles.
Disparity in different “local ordinances . . . confounds commercial gardeners”
 
(CA State Senate Local Government Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of May 6, 1998, Comments 1).
It is agreed that total bans are more easily understood and enforced than are noise and pollution regulations.
 
ZAP suggested the State fund Small Business Administration classes, and/or that gardener associations and retailers of blowers provide information and educational materials. 
 
Retailers and service or repair shops should, at a minimum, prominently display signs containing local laws and restrictions on blowers and other gardening equipment.
 
Manufacturers are already posting machines sold in California with emission levels, and in some cases, with decibel level stickers.  Sales personnel should point these out and explain them to potential customers.
UNFAIR
It is “unfair to deprive a class of people -- commercial gardeners and landscape maintenance workers --- from using a tool that is very important to their ability to earn a living”
 
(CA State Senate Business and Professions Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of April 13, 1998, Comments 1.Purpose)
“Unfair” is a statement of opinion, a feeling, not a fact.  It must be considered with the statement, “It is unfair to deprive all people of all classes from breathing dust free, clean air.” 
 
See “How Your Neighbors Feel” and “How others feel” about leaf blowers at ZAP Manhattan Beach website. (Source) Add your own comments there.
Gardeners should “resist [the law], use blowers, it’s unjust”.  Gardener’s Association Representative. (98.2.3)
This encourages violation of a law.
The LA ordinance is a “direct assault on working people” 
 
(CA State Assembly Member Tony Cardenas  (98.7.2)
Blower pollution is an assault on us all, but first on their operators.
 
Neighbors assaulted by blower noise, fumes and dust are also “working people”, who may be working at the time, or may have been sleeping so they can work a night shift. 
 
Many families can employ gardeners only because two or more family members work full time outside the home.
 
See Letter to a Gardener’s Association, from a gardener.  It addresses how blowers affect gardeners. (Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento, CQS, Source)
Bans are “government trying to slap the working class down”  L.A. City Councilmember. (98.1.6)
A broad generalization.  This same Councilmember, who is part of city “government,” sided, obviously, with blower supporters.  
 
Other government regulations and bans were also enacted to protect people.  Just as smoking bans in public places protect the health of others, so do noise and air pollution restrictions.
“. . .not a job to be proud of anymore”, Gardener
(98.1.10)
It is if you are responsible, dependable, take care of the land, do not break agreements with employers not to use blowers.  And, if you do not violate the law.
“Now we are seen as polluters.” (97.8.4)
This may be true.  Even more so, as time goes on and there is a lack of compliance with restrictions and bans.  Complaining about being considered polluters does not justify continuing to pollute.
“Why don’t you get up earlier?”
 
Response to a request to “Come back later” with his leaf blower.  (96.7.1)
Author “works late, sleeps late.”
 
Those who need sleep after 7 a.m. ( or at any possible hour of the day) include, but are not limited to:  Parents who have been up all night with a sick child.  Their sick child.  Night-shift doctors, nurses, phone-water-utility repair workers, waitresses, taxi cab drivers, truck drivers, songwriters, musicians, commercial building janitorial workers, police officers, fire fighters, airline pilots and other airline/airport workers, computer and other help-line operators, (such as poison control and 911 operators).
“The gardener can’t come at any other time” 
 
“Neighborly [non]solution” when requested to “reschedule the leaf-assault ritual. " (96.7.1)
Perhaps your neighborhood could get together and hire only gardeners who are willing to use machines sparingly, and who can come on the same day.  Perhaps one gardener would take on all the houses, saving him or her travel time between neighborhoods. 
 
Every neighbor could then prepare for one day of torment:  Use ear plugs the night before, keep windows closed, air conditioning or fan or music turned on, take phone calls in an inner-room of their home.
Regarding the “concern” that banning blowers is only the first step to banning all the other power equipment:
“Absurd, scare tactic.” as are the “staged mass walkouts at City Council meetings”
 
The “walkout” in Northern California ‘echoed’ the walkout of representatives of one gardener’s association, leaving a committee formed to re-work the L.A. ban, because they didn’t get their way.  Their only compromise offer was to withdraw the ban completely, and go back to decibel level restrictions that had been in existence for years.
ALTERNATIVE FUELS
“I’m not using gasoline, I’m using methanol.” 
- Gardener, in response to being advised of the ban on gas blowers
Methanol which can be used only in altered blowers does contain at least 10% gasoline, so he was using gasoline. 
 
As manufactured, the blowers will not operate on methanol.  And, in California, it is illegal to alter machines manufactured after 1995.  These machines are required to have a Tier I or Tier II sticker. 
 
See ZAP Methanol Research Paper HTML Document or PDF for information and graphics.
 
The intent of the ban was to ban a machine, commonly defined as a “gas” or “gasoline blower” to differentiate it from an “electric blower”.  The intent was not to ban a fuel.
“He called on the council to delay enforcement until better machines are developed.” Refers to a spokesperson for a gardeners association. (98.2.8)
The most vocal and publicity-loving blower advocate group interpreted the ban to be on a “machine”.
 
Landscape contractor’s association “CLCA Positions on Leaf Blowers” (97.6.3)
and
“. . . it’s also about fairness: banning a useful piece of equipment. . . “  Quoted a member of a landscape contractor’s association)  (98.2.4)
Landscape contractor’s association position paper and spokesperson interpreted ban to be on “leaf blowers” as a “piece of equipment.
[With blower bans,] “We’re taking away the tools of the trade . . .”  State Senator, (98.2.9)
 
and, again:
It is “unfair to deprive a class of people -- commercial gardeners and landscape maintenance workers --- from using a tool that is very important to their ability to earn a living”
(CA State Senate Business and Professions Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of April 13, 1998, Comments 1.Purpose)
CA State Senate proposal to remove “bans on leaf blowers” did not exclude Los Angeles.  Legislators perceived the L.A. ban to refer to a tool.  In this case, the tool is a machine.
HEADLINES:
Blower Ban Worries Gardeners(96.5.1)
Council OKs Ban, Fines on Gas Leaf Blowers (96.11.1)
Gas Leaf-Blower Ban Delayed Until January (97.7.3)
Panels OKs Delaying Ban of Leaf Blowers (97.7.4)
Blowers back in Action (Council lifts ban for six months) (97.7.6)
Controversy Over Ban on Leaf Blowers (97.7.9)
Leaf Blowers Pollute (97.7.12)
Making Some Noise (Residents vs landscapers on leaf blowers) (97.8.3)
Gardening Crimes in L.A. (Use of blowers is illegal, but debate over their use continues) (97.8.4)
Leaf-blower ban wins council approval in L.A. (98.1.5)
Leaf Blower Ban Upheld by Council (98.1.6)
“Leaf-blower ban begins . . . (98.2.8)
Newspapers concluded the ban was on leaf blowers. They did not say“Gasoline use in leaf blowers,” not “Gasoline Back in Action,” not “Gasoline Pollutes.”
In the pivotal City Council meeting and vote, those who supported or voted for the ban mentioned dust, mold, particulate matter (contained in fugitive dust) or noise pollution concerns 37 times.  Even ban opponents mentioned these considerations 11 times.
 
Whereas, those who supported or voted for the Los Angeles blower ban mentioned health concerns in terms that could have related to either fugitive dust or gasoline, such as “pollutants” or “fumes,” only 9 times.  Ban opponents used these terms six times.
In the City Council, both supporters and opponents of the ban presented arguments pertaining to the results of use or non use of a machine.
 
The word “fuel” was never mentioned at one hour-long 1997 Council meeting.  Nor was the word gasoline ever used by itself. 
  • The term “gas” (as, gas-powered, gas-fired, gas-one) was used 12 times.
  • The term “gasoline” (as, gasoline-powered, gasoline-blower) was used 8 times.
  • The term “gasoline” was also used once in reference to mowers, and once in reference to fumes.
  • However, the term “leaf blower” was used 36 times, and “blower” was used 9 times.

Perhaps we should conclude from this that all blowers were to be banned.

December 9, 1997 “Leaf Blower Task Force“ report: 
This was not called a “Fuel Task Force” or “Gasoline Task Force”.  It reported on the “Leaf Blower Ordinance”, not the “Fuel Ordinance” or the “Gasoline Ordinance.”
 
Task Force outreach meetings included “gardener associations, homeowner groups, leaf blower manufacturers and dealers, and environmental groups.”  There was no representation from gasoline manufacturers or dealers, or even gas station owners or any other representative of the fuel industry.  If this were a ban on a fuel, why were these groups not heard from at any meeting, or in the press?
 
The Leaf blower Task Force recommendation of December 1997 mentions the term “gas” or “gas powered” four times and the term “leaf blower” ten times, not including its use in the ordinance title, itself.  The word “gasoline”, alone, was never used.
 
Page 8 of the Task Force recommendation refers to finding suitable replacements to gas power leaf blowers, not to the fuel.
“I’m not using gasoline, I’m using natural gas.”
No comment.