to the California Legislature on the Potential Health and Environmental
Impacts of Leaf Blowers California Air Resources Board, February
(delivered May) 2000:
For exhaust emissions, the number of people potentially impacted
is as high as the population of the state. . . and:
The sensitive and probable risk groups for CO [carbon monoxide]
include anemics, the elderly, pregnant women, fetuses, young infants,
and those suffering from certain blood, cardiovascular, or respiratory
News article, regarding particulates: The biggest risk is faced
by the elderly and people afflicted with asthma, angina, pneumonia or
other lung and heart ailments (97.6.2)
||In one study, high
short-term exposures to CO [carbon monoxide] were found in people
operating small gas-powered garden equipment (ARB 1992). (ARB
Even a gardener who opposed blower bans was quoted as saying, It
does bother me. I have a thing with dust and fumes. (98.1.10)
But, he felt they were an economic necessity, even though Its
come to people making a lot of noise and dust and youre gone.
Adequate eye, breathing and hearing protection can help and is recommended
by OSHA and manufacturers. Gloves are recommended to protect
from burns, and possibly from exposure to toxic fuels and vibrations.
Also recommended are wrap-around protective goggles (not recreational
sunglasses), earplugs and/or muff-type ear protectors, and respirator
face-mask that covers mouth and nose (not a scarf over mouth or a
However, even then, there is no effective air filter for exposures
to carbon monoxide and other air toxics. (ARB
Report) A decibel level of 65 at 50 feet might still be
100 or more next to a gardeners ear. Toxic spills while
filling small tanks, and emissions during use of gasoline 2-stroke
machines, are first inhaled by machine operators, as is the Particulate
matter, consisting of molds, dried bird and rat feces, pesticides,
gasoline and oil and fine dust particles that lodge deep in lung linings.
The ARB recommends more study of carbon monoxide and other air toxics
created by the use of blowers, especially the exposure of operators,
themselves. Whether a blower user, or anyone else, is negatively
affected by contaminants depends on the amount of exposure and the
length of time of exposure. It also depends on their own overall
health and personal physical sensitivities to irritants. For
the worker, the analysis suggests concern. (ARB
|Infants and Children
A 1987 autopsy study
of 15-to-25 year olds showed slight lung airspace inflammation in
75%, and severe damage in 27%. 54% had severe illness in either
the bronchial glands or bronchial linings. (97.11.1)
And, a 1989 study estimated that school age children,
who represent only 20% of the [South Coast Air] basins population,
experience more than 40% of the symptoms associated with exposure
to ozone. (97.8.1)
(Also noted in another Source for both studies).
For their body size, children inhale several times more air
than adults, and they breathe faster. . . taking in more
Allergy is the primary cause of asthma. About 90% of children
under 10 who have asthma . . .also have allergies. . . .Childhood
asthma is considered one of the two most common pediatric ailments
for hospital admission. Asthma is defined as a reversible obstructive
airway disease. (Allergy
Small, growing bodies take in contaminants at a greater impact than
do adults. In 1993, among children under age 5,
black children were six times more likely to die from asthma than
white children. Childrens Environmental Health
Network (CEHN). Their
web site includes analyses of federal legislation and studies that
regard childrens health.
CEHN points out that Children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental
exposures because they are in a dynamic state of growth and can
have greater exposures to toxicants than adults. Pound per pound
of body weight children drink more water, eat more food, and breathe
more air. and Children have increased oxygen
needs compared to their size, they breathe more rapidly and inhale
more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults. They often
spend more time engaged in vigorous outdoor activities than adults.
Other good sources for information about Asthma, NIH,
In 1997, a government study ("The Relationship between Selected
Causes of Postneonatal Infant Mortality and Particulate Air Pollution
in the United States, Woodruff, et. al.) found that infant
mortality seems to increase as Particulate matter (PM10) increases.
In a letter to the White House, CEHN, states, This is just
one of numerous medical and scientific studies indicating that air
pollution contributes to respiratory disease and early death.
The Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility
used the Woodruff, et. al. data for a report on Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome. In highly polluted areas, babies were 26% more likely
to die of SIDS than those in areas with cleaner air. Some
experts believe that Particulate Matter could cause 500 cases of
SIDS nationwide per year, with the highest number of deaths estimated
as taking place in Southern California. PM contributes to
SIDS deaths, where it is believed babies heart and respiratory
rates slow and their blood pressure drops. The
Environmental Working Group (CEHN)
At best, PM is an important environmental stressor, warranting
further investigation. Fugitive dust distribution caused by
the use of blowers warrants further investigation, especially because
it often is initiated only a few feet from nursery windows and strollers.
Individuals with Cardio-Pulmonary Problems,
The elderly and
those with heart and lung disease are at greatest risk of premature
mortality due to particulate air pollution. Their lives might
be shortened by one to two years on average in more polluted areas.
. . .
. . .studies show that particulate matter causes respiratory
symptoms, changes . . .and pulmonary inflammation which can lead
to increased permeability of the lungs. ..Increased permeability
might precipitate fluid in the lungs in people with heart disease
. . . and:
. . .
. . .mediators released during an inflammatory response could
increase the risk of blood clot formation and strokes. and:
. . .
PM exposure . . .might also increase susceptibility to bacterial
or viral respiratory infections, leading to an increased incidence
of pneumonia in vulnerable members of the population. Natural
Resources Defense Council.
People currently thought to be at greatest risk from exposure
to ambient CO [carbon monoxide] levels are those with ischemic heart
disease who have stable exercise-induced angina pectoris (cardiac
chest pain). (ARB 1992,
U.S. EPA 1999b).
Particulate matter poses the greatest risk to the elderly and those
w/ asthma, angina, pneumonia or other lung and/or heart ailments.
A 1997 Kaiser Foundation Research Institute study of Southern California
found that, for every 10 microgram increase in coarse particle pollution,
hospitalizations for chronic respiratory problems rose by 7%.
Hospitalizations rose by 3.5% for patients with acute respiratory
disease and by 3 % for patients with cardiovascular disease.
In or near Southern California communities where AQMD was taking
daily pollution measurements, maximum effect was on people
with preexisting diseases. The 7% increase is considered a
big number, almost twice what has been reported in other studies.
A surprisingly big increase. (97.11.7)
A California Environmental Protection Agency study in the Coachella
Valley showed a 1% increase in deaths and 2.5% increase in emergency
room visits for pneumonia per 10 microgram increase in coarse particulates.
ASTHMA and allergy sufferers may need additional medications on
days with high ratings of PM and/or when several nearby properties
are groomed in one day. The National Institutes of Health
has concluded, Environmental control to reduce exposure to
indoor and outdoor allergens is critical
Read more about Asthma at the National
Institute of Health website, and scan our References Links page
for Asthma groups which may not be cited in our text.
|People Who Exercise Outdoors:
|The Air Quality Management
Districts web page puts out TOMORROWS
SMOG REPORT. Read all the tables, or scan down to easy to
read good, moderate, unhealthful section.
Athletes exercising outdoors may suffer reduced performance levels
at .12 ppm level of ozone. Even if young and healthy, they may
be one of the most vulnerable to the effects of ozone and other environmental
pollutants they inhale (AQMD).
When ozone levels reached above .12 ppm, it took many days after the
ozone episode had passed for the lung function of children at summer
camp to return to what it had been before the episode.
Children spend more time outdoors than do adults. When they
exercise, they breath faster, and through their mouths. Air
pollutants are not filtered as they are with nose breathing.