leaf blowers zero air pollution
research regarding leaf blower laws
Shiela Kuehl

Laura Chick

Roger B. Swain, Ph.D.

More complaints....

About 6 printed pages.


Comments by Ban Advocates

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ZAP Studies:

1.  Public Opinion Survey99

2.  Observation of Yard Maintenance Workers Regarding Safety Instructions.

3.  Video and Video Written Transcript

Blowers create an illusion of usefulness

Shiela Kuehl, CA State Assemblymember
(At the time this site was set up, Member of CA State Senate) 65 decibels compares to “a Mack Truck”, on residential streets.

L.A. City Councilmember
Laura Chick

Letter of January 27, 1998:

“I agree with the majority of the City Council and the vast majority of those who contacted me on this issue, that gas-powered blowers create an environmental annoyance and health problems that must be stopped.. . . .I felt that leaf blowers are not the only tool that can be used to keep our properties swept and attractive.  They generate health problems from the dust they stir up and create such a loud noise that the quality of residential life is disrupted too often.”
Regarding blowers:

Roger B. Swain, Ph.D.

Editor, Horticulture magazine
Host, PBS Victory Garden
“In the country, houses are separated by quarter of a mile.  In the East, leaves fall mainly in Fall.  In the West, they are a problem all year long.”
“If someone says that he has become used to a loud noise, it is because he can no longer hear it. . . .If I have to raise my voice to talk to someone 3 feet away, then the noise of the machine is loud enough to be hurting my hearing.”
“Secondhand noise is every bit as irritating as the secondhand smoke from cigarettes”  
“Noise is an emission, too.”
AMISH saying, “We are Quiet on the Land.” 
Author came home for a quick lunch, only to face blowers
Regarding Good Gardening Practices:
The Practical Gardener, Roger B. Swain
Page 122: TREES:  “prevent grass from growing [up to tree trunks] . . .trees and sod are incompatible . . . .Sooner or later, whoever is cutting the grass will bang into the trunk and injure the tree. . .you don’t even have to leave a mark  . .[A] power mower against the bark can bruise the tender cambium layer under the bark. ‘
Amongst other suggestions, Swain recommends, “ rendering the adjacent soil inhospitable.  This is most easily done with a good layer of mulch, a layer that will at the same time provide attendant benefits to whatever plants are growing in its midst.
Pages 86-87:  LEAVES:  “Dead leaves are an inexpensive mulch. . . .  Raking leaves into a shrub border or simply letting the wind take care of this is also an excellent way to mulch, provided the leaves are not so deep that they smother the roots.”
“Pine Needles . . .make a very attractive mulch.”
GRASS:  “I believe that grass clippings should be left on the lawn, where they will dramatically reduce the need for fertilizer.  If you use them as mulch, don’t put them on so thick and so fresh that they make an impermeable layer.” 
L.A. Times, Rip Rense
What’s It Take to Get a Little Peace and Quiet Around Here?
“The leaf blower is the stupidest invention in human history.  . . .would an intelligent being dream up a machine that roars like an old Flash Gordon serial rocket, creates more pollution than a Peterbilt, and scares the daylights out of cats?  All to perform a task that rakes used to accomplish in – I’m convinced – the same amount of time?”
“. . .ferociously whooshing debris into ivy, bushes and gutters across the nation.  It’s the gardening equivalent of [sweeping] dust under rugs.  With a bulldozer. . . .blasting those nasty, elusive, vicious leaves willy-nilly with his grand, howling machine.”
“Not quite as loud as a cheering football stadium”
L.A. Times Letters, July, 1997

“. . .How about if I bring a leaf blower downtown and fire it up outside your office when you’re on the phone interviewing a source or trying to complete a column on deadline?  I work at home, I don’t live on the Westside . . .I make less money than you or the gardeners. . .But I do find the din of leaf blowers intolerable.  I live close to my neighbors . . .I have to tell whomever I’m talking to on the phone that I’ll have to call them back.  I can’t write.  I can’t read.

The real problem here is people who plant lawns and nonnative plants, then pour on water they require to survive in the semiarid environment.  And people who allow no bush to go untrimmed, insist no leaf be allowed to litter the ground, and equate happiness with a well-manicured lawn and “clean walkways.”  Blake Gumprecht, L.A., CA
“We pay for street cleaning, and then the gardeners come along and blow the streets dirty again. . . .The gardeners can litter our streets and get paid for it!”  Terry Brannon, L.A. CA
“. . .Sound-level tests produced for the Los Angeles City Council proved that a leaf blower running at operational levels is much louder than an operating lawn mower. . . .Another serious problem is that they do not just blow leaves, but also blow up swirling clouds of toxic particles consisting of dried herbicides and pesticides, tiny bits of dried animal urine and feces, bacteria and viruses, cement, oil, unburned gasoline, automobile brake dust, and a host of other pollutants that end up in your lungs and sinuses.”  Stephen C. Brecht, Woodland Hills, CA.
“For years I have had to endure the ear-splitting noise caused by gasoline-operated gas blowers.  Finally, since the long-awaited ban, I have been able to sit out on my patio and actually hear the birds or listen to my radio.”  Lynn Clayton, Sherman Oaks, CA
The Willow Glen Resident Letters, November 5, 1997:

“Only today, starting at 7:15 a.m., I have had to put up with lawn trimmers, followed by lawn mowers, followed by leaf-blowers.  Then they started trimming the trees with chainsaws, again followed by leaf-blowers.  Finally, they finished by trimming the hedges and ground covering, again followed by leaf-blowers. . . .I eventually left my house and took my work to a coffee shop. . .only to be subjected to another leaf-blower in the supermarket parking lot.. . .I even witnessed one workman use a blower to blow a single leaf from one side of the road to the other.”  Steve Trigwell, Sunnyvale, CA
L.A. Times Letters: November 11, 1997:

“. . .there are already regulations regarding hours and noise levels (65 decibels) for gas blowers that have been in effect for years.  Yet the city fails to implement them and gardeners fail to abide by them.  So why are the gardeners now asking for regulations we already have?  It’s their own fault that a ban was passed as a law.  People are fed up with listening to those horrendous, polluting noise machines. . . .My gardener converted [to electric] and he still gets the job done.” Gregory V. Gibbs, L.A., CA.
“Contrary to your statement that the ordinance has been ‘delayed from taking effect until next January,’ the ordinance is in effect and has been since July 1 [1997].  On Jan.1 the city will begin issuing citations for violations of the law.” Cindy Miscikowski, Councilmember, L.A., CA.
New York Times: January 11, 1998: 

“The drama in Los Angeles is mirrored in suburban areas around the country, where noise pollution is becoming a major quality-of-life issue.  The battle is reaching a critical point because small gas-powered devices have grown wildly in popularity at a time when more people are either working at home or zealously guarding the quality of the little leisure time they have at the end of a hectic work week.”
New York Times Letters, January 9, 1998:

“Until 10 years ago gardeners never used leaf blowers and consequently did not feel deprived of a “vital tool” for earning a living.  Now the manufacturers of these noise, air-polluting machines have found a wedge that gives gardeners an issue to rally around and a voice for the first time.” Donna Perlmutter, L.A. CA
“It seems that by tending “upward of a dozen yards a day,” even for “as little as $70 a month” from each homeowner (Los Angeles Journal, Jan.7), gardeners could clear 60 yards in a five-day workweek and earn a monthly income of up to $4,200. . . .shouldn’t mass demonstrations and hunger strikes be reserved for the plights of workers who are somewhat less well off?”  Daniel E. Johnson, Brookline, MA.

“How can noisy machines help clean the world when noise itself is a form of filth?” and
“Air over which sound travels is a common property of everybody, and nobody has any more right to inflict noise than they have to inflict smoke or any other kind of damage” Ashleigh Brilliant, BLAST, Santa Barbara.


“Noise polluters are like bullies in a schoolyard.  They are basically saying, ‘I don’t care about you and the effect my noise has on you.’  It’s a power issue.” and

“Anti-noise crusaders contend that, of all the kinds of pollution in this frenetic world, noise may be the most insidious.” 

Les Blomberg, Coordinator of the Noise Pollution Clearing House, Montpelier, Vt.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

“In our condominium complex the noise echoing around the buildings is a serious problem for those of us who work at night or at home.  Some hours it is impossible to enjoy the grounds or relax on our decks because of the extent tht blowers are employed in the immediate vicinity.  . . .[Also] faced by many Menlo park residents living in relatively close quarters.”
[Regarding the Menlo Park City Council meeting], “. . .the majority of speakers and attendees were not residents. . . .Isn’t it ironic that blowers are banned in Lake Zurich, Illinois, where blowers are assembled . . .and are not used in Japan where design and parts are made because, according to the Japanese Consulate, they are ‘distressful’?!”

Robert L. Blum, M.D., Emergency room night shift.

Metro Active News, November 12-18, 1998

“To win against the proposed ban [in Menlo Park], the opposition needs to change the subject, because there’s nothing they can say to defend the blower itself.”  Cheryl Zaslawski
“How does eliminating a labor-saving device result in the loss of jobs?”  Julie Kelts, Citizens for a Quieter Sacramento.

“Three, four, fives days a week, we always have a leaf blower going full blast.”

Gerald A. Silver, president of the Homeowners of Encino.


Laguna Beach 1993 law bans all blowers.  Reporter Seema Mehta credits Mr. Frank with the explanation, “. . .because they still spread harmful dust that can include fecal matter, pesticides, chemicals, fungi and street dirt that can contain lead and carbon.”  Workers can use “the so-called clean machine, a gas powered vacuum.”

Kenneth C. Frank, City manager of Laguna Beach, CA

“As the blowers became pervasive, the complaints mounted – more than 5,000 in Los Angeles since the ordinance was adopted.”

“That level [65dB] is two or three times louder than most conversations, experts say.”
Decibel Chart: 
Very Loud =60:very loud conversation, dishwasher; 65-75: Leaf blowers [at 50 feet ANSI standards].  70: busy traffic, vacuum cleaner.  80: alarm clock. 
Extremely Loud = 90 lawnmower.  100: snowmobile, chainsaw [most leaf blowers as measured closer than 50 feet].
(See the zapla Decibel Chart)

“Since January (ten months) Santa Monica received 1,700 complaints.”
[Note:  People who actually phone in a complaint represent multitudes more, who are too busy, too frustrated, or too timid to call.]

Joan Graves, Founder of Zero Air Pollution
“. . .says neighborhood peer pressure is the key to compliance.”
“Power tools are abused all the time.”
Emile Bayle, Mayor, San Marino, CA
Amanda Niskar, nurse-epidemiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Noise “is an environmental and community problem for children.”
Orange County [CA] Grand Jury Report
Decibel levels of 65dB – 75dB may be 90dB – 95dB at operator's ear.  Air velocity at nozzle ranges from 180 mph up to 250 mph.