leaf blowers zero air pollution
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Unfair

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COMPLAINTS, COMMENTS AND COMPARISONS
MADE BY BLOWER SUPPORTERS


Work Conditions: Effort

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Don’t underestimate the force of these concerns on politicians who don’t know both sides of the issue, and who rely on "facts" supplied to them by others, including unconfirmed statements quoted in the press.  And, don’t underestimate the over-exaggeration of most of these claims. 

Blowers create an illusion of usefulness

 

EFFICIENCY
The work of one gardening crew was reported as a “grueling marathon of motion, noise, fumes and dust”  Blow dirt all over the place: into the street, the air, the next-door neighbor’s yard.  “They rearrange it rather than remove it” (98.1.10)
That is the basis of advocacy for blower regulations and/or bans.  It is unhealthy and unpleasant for everyone, and worse for the worker using the blower.
Long work hours.
A valid observation in most cases.  Other blue-collar and white-collar jobs also necessitate long hours, even working long into the night.  And, although the physical strains may be different, they can also be substantial.
“Banning leaf blowers causes a job which is already very physically demanding to become even more strenuous and/or dangerous.” 
 
(CA State Senate Business and Professions Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of April 13, 1998, Comments 1.Purpose)
 
(CA State Senate Business and Professions Committee SB1651 Bill Analysis of April 13, 1998, Comments 1.Purpose)
A manufacturer’s User’s Manual for gasoline powered leaf blowers warns not to operate their unit “. . .if you are over tired or sick, if you are taking medication . . .” [some antihistamines make you more susceptible to hearing loss] and to operate it “. . .only if you are physically and mentally well”.  Operators should wear OSHA approved eye, hand, breathing and hearing protection, yet,  “. . .heavy protective clothing can increase operator fatigue which may lead to heat stroke.”, and one should “. . .equip yourself and any other person working within the 50 ft. Safety Zone with the required protective equipment and clothing”.  (Source)
 
Manufacturers warn that the unit is not to be used within 50 ft. of children and animals.
 
Rakes and brooms seem less “demanding” and less “dangerous.” 
Blowers are an “essential” tool
Depends on the definition of “essential”.  Easy to use, they provide a sense of strength and control through their noise, rushing air, and the rapid scattering of leaves and debris.   Like the power of driving a car when you’re a teen-age new driver.
 
A “preferred” or “favored” tool, perhaps.
Indispensable, no.
This has also been called a “tool of convenience” by gardeners at public meetings. 
There is a big difference between “essential” and “convenient”.  Blowers are a tool of choice.
The work [of blowers] cannot be done without them
Sweeping can be done with a broom, raking with a rake, dust removal with an electric vacuum.   Many blowers can also serve as vacuums, where that use of the machine is not also banned.
 
Survey99 and oral testimony shows many yards are cleaned without blowers. (Source)
 
This work has been done for centuries and still is done in most places throughout the world without them
Workers will not be able to get landscape and hardscape perfectly clean without blowers.
Landscape and hardscape seldom has to be perfectly clean. Within minutes of the completion of a clean-up job, new leaves will fall. "Reasonably clean" would be a more realistic goal.
Claimed the work takes 5 times longer to work without blowers.
See Work Conditions: Time
These figures would mean a ten minute clean-up, for instance, would take about an hour, just for gathering leaves and debris.
The use of water to hose down hardscape is the only alternative to blowers.
Water as a cleaning force is slower than any other method.  A landscape contractor’s association states “Using water in this manner is unreasonable in drought-prone California.” (97.6.3)
 
The “Five Diamond” Santa Barbara Bed and Breakfast  “Simpson House Inn” uses palm fronds to sweep the driveway, and any water used to hose walkways becomes part of their irrigation plan for lawns and bedding plants.  See how clean their grounds look at
http://www.simpsonhouseinn.com.
COMPARISONS
Like taking snow blowers and expecting them to shovel snow (98.1.12)
This is faulty reasoning.  There is no comparison between shoveling snow and gathering leaves, dust and debris into one or more piles.  The actual picking up and removal of these items is not done by a blower, and, therefore, is not at issue.
UNFAIR
“It’s a shame because gardening should be an art, pruning and taking your time.  It’s come to people making a lot of noise and dust and you’re gone.  It’s not a job to be proud of anymore.” -- A Gardener. (98.1.10)
This gardener says he has not raised his prices in years.  We urge him to become the kind of gardener he obviously would prefer to be, and to get business advice from a gardeners’ association, or the Small Business Administration on how to manage his finances and his customers. They provide Spanish versions of some information.  Again, the City of Los Angeles also has a small business assistance program.
 
It would seem appropriate that the gardening equipment retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and industry groups make business training or information easily available.  They might be encouraged to do so if enough gardeners showed that they would take advantage of it.  They could do this through their gardeners’ associations.
Electric blowers…can be hazardous to operators.  Swimming pools, spas, garden ponds, and moisture from landscape irrigation make for a potential electric shock problem.”  A landscape contractors’ association position paper
Electric blowers can be hazardous to all residents of California, as well as to the blower operators who create and/or distribute unsafe pollutants.  But not because of shock.  The Uniform Electric Code requires outdoor plugs to be gfi (Ground Fault Intercept) protected.-- see The Shocking Truth.
 
As more powerful electric models are made available, their air velocity noise may become a problem. 
 
Technology is available and upcoming for use of rechargeable batteries.  Whether discarded batteries could become an ecological problem in the future has not been investigated by ZAP, and so is not addressed here.
 
If you have specific information about this subject (pro or con), please contact us at info@zapla.org to let us know how we can get in touch with you.  We have a policy not to open email attachments.  Or send the information via “snail-mail” to:

ZAP
P.O. Box 3441
Santa Monica, CA 90408-3441.

Thanks.
THEN AGAIN....
“A lot of these guys misuse them [blowers] – at full throttle when they don’t need to, which causes a lot of dust and noise. . .I get annoyed.” 
-- a gardener. (96.5.1)
Yes.  A LOT of them misuse blowers.
 
Despite years of published comments like this 1996 quote, and despite years of manufacturers trying to educate blower users to be more courteous, incidents still occur where full-throttle use blows debris right into neighboring homes through open windows and doors. 
 
This writer was struck by airborne debris in May 2001 when opening the side yard door a crack to ask the gardener on the other side of a six foot brick wall to lower the throttle of his blower.  He was young, and unaware of the turmoil he had caused inside the kitchen until it was mentioned.
 
Yes, we could have just closed the kitchen window, and turned on the air conditioner.  But now there is a ban on the blower he was using.  Had it been my own house, and my neighbor’s property, I would have instructed him to stop using it, and reported the next violation.
When illness strikes gardeners – 90% of whom lack health insurance, may simply get a massage or visit a doctor in Tijuana when they get a day off.  Meanwhile, the illness may get worse. (99.9.1)
All the more reason gardener’s associations to provide group insurance at a reasonable cost, or help workers get their own “group” coverage.
 
A good reason for them to provide education about the importance of wearing of safety gear, and to teach work habits that cut down the amount of noise and fugitive dust workers must cope with.
 
California State Disability Insurance and/or Workers’ Compensation information can be gained by phoning the Employment Development Department at 800 952-5253.
“It does bother me.  I have a thing with dust and fumes”
 -- a gardener. (98.1.10)
Ban advocates also “have a thing with dust and fumes”.
“It’s the type of industry where you have to live with the pain because you can’t afford to go to the hospital or take a lot of time off.”  Gardener’s association activist. (99.9.1)
Even more reason that polluting machine, that affects gardeners first, is banned. Even more reason for gardener's associations to assist with health care coverage.