It's not really a leaf blower,
It's a power broom.
-- A Landscaper
|What They Are
The name or designation
leaf blower is misleading. As more people realize this
fact, the term dirt blower and noise blower
are becoming popular descriptions. The City of Lawndales (CA)
ordinance refers to them as . . .weed and debris blowers.
One landscape contractor stated they are used primarily on hardscape
(defined) to move leaves, dirt,
grass clippings and debris. Another landscaper says, Its
not a leaf blower, its a power broom (97.8.3).
The power blower was described by the editor of a lawn-care industry
magazine as the elegant alternative to broom sweeping
(98.2.4) for grass clippings.
An education video made specifically for professional gardeners
and other workers shows five times more blowing of hardscape than
of landscape. A landscape contractors association opposes
full bans claiming it would make cleaning parking lots and parking
structures more difficult.
They are what the book Small is Beautiful calls inappropriate
technology, what one magazine called Technological overkill
and were included in The Learning Channel production of "Inventions
We Love to Hate." Some people consider them modern
toys. They are a Triple Jeopardy of emission, noise
and fugitive dust air pollution.
The most recently produced blowers should run cleaner than those
mentioned in articles and studies referred to on this web site.
However, the majority of blowers in use in residential areas are
older machines. Even if they met the emission standards in
force at the time they were manufactured, after years of use the
older units may produce even more pollution than noted herein.
For this reason, if a blower is going to be used, we join manufacturers
in urging regular upkeep and maintenance, and the purchase of new
technology to replace older, more polluting machines.
|Gasoline Blowers Have Two-Stroke
Two stroke and four stroke designations
refer to the number of piston movements during an engine cycle.
In a four-stroke engine, two revolutions require four piston strokes.
Two-stroke engines have only one revolution and must use a mixture
of oil and fuel that burns incompletely. Researchers say as
much as 25% of that oil and fuel is then spit out, unburned, through
and (98.1.1) Blowers
. . .use fuel as a coolant, spitting unburned gasoline
an ingredient of smoginto the air to keep themselves from
The web site howstuffworks
points out that two-stroke engines [such as those used for blowers,
edgers, scooters, snow blowers, Ski Jets], wear a lot faster than
four-stroke engines, their use of 4 ounces of special oil per gallon
of gas is expensive, and they produce a lot of pollution,
due to the leaking hydrocarbons from the fresh fuel combined
with the leaking oil. . . Go to this site to see an
animation of an engine at work.
Gasoline lawn mowers have four-stroke engines, which are 7
to 10 times cleaner than the new two-stroke models [blowers] on
the drawing board [in 1998] (98.2.5).
It is illegal under California
Motor Vehicle Code 27156 to alter or modify the original design
of gasoline blowers manufactured after 1995, all of which are distinct
from pre 1995 models. On the top of the carburetor on newer
models, a raised metal housing (border) surrounds two screws that
are next to each other. Both of these screws are recessed
within the housing and covered with a plastic cap, also recessed
within the housing. The two screws on older machines are exposed
and wrapped in coils. See
carburetor graphic here.
However, a few test cases have modified older machines
to operate on methanol. This is not recommended by manufacturers.
AlsoSee Methanol Report.
The two-stroke motor was banned in the form of water scooters on
Lake Tahoe because it polluted the water, leaving a shimmer of oil
around two-stroke motor boats. Two-stroke pollution includes
the carcinogen benzene. Yet, this motor is used daily throughout
California in the form of dirt blowers and lawn edgers. They
waste the same gas and oil, and belch the same air pollution
from fuel as the banned water scooters. They disrupt the peace
and quiet of residents and visitors alike.
|Definitions of Leaf Blowers
|The legal definitions of
machines used to blow leaves, dust and debris are varied. See
Definitions for various municipal
With only two varieties of blower in common use, the Los Angeles ordinance
differentiated between them with the commonly used term Gasoline
(or gas) blower for combustion engine machines, and the term
Electric blower for those that must be plugged in or use
Although the intent of the L.A. ban was to ban a machine, some have
interpreted the definition as referring to the fuel only. However,
a review of the transcript of the over an hour long, definitive Council
meeting shows the general terms blower and leaf
blower were used interchangeably, even though electric models
were not being banned, and that gasoline itself, and fuel
were never discussed. Nor were manufacturer or brand names,
or model names or numbers, of explicit machines used or specified.
Throughout the debates and voting process to pass the ordinance, any
reasonable person correctly assumed the ban was on all blowers not
operated by electricity or battery.
Gardeners quoted in the press were concerned about losing a tool,
not a fuel. (99.10.2)
More than one City Councilmember referred to blowers as a tool
(98.1.6). A Landscape
Contractors Association representative said, Its about
fairness: banning a useful piece of equipment. (98.2.4)
Reporters did no stories on alternate fuels, but many on the use of
alternate tools or electric blowers. In the fourteen years of
grassroots efforts to restrict or ban blowers, fuel companies and
fuel distributors never voiced opposition, while blower manufacturers
and blower distributors were at the forefront.
The type of fuel does not change the noise level, however, and the
L.A. blower ban is a section of an overall noise ordinance which prohibits
regular use of machines over 65 decibels in residential neighborhoods.
That is quieter than a household vacuum cleaner but noisier
than a hair dryer. (00.8.1a)