leaf blowers zero air pollution
research regarding leaf blower laws
 


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Survey 99

LEAF BLOWER USE PATTERNS

 

1. Methods of leaf and debris gathering:

Participants were asked to select up to two methods of leaf and debris gathering used on their property.

18% of all Participants listed water as one of the methods.

37% listed rake.

18% listed broom.

24% listed blowers.

3% had no idea.

53% of the properties of all Participants are cleaned with alternatives to blowers.

 

2. Type of Blower Used:

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months:

65% of blowers used are gas blowers.

23% of blowers used are electric and/or battery operated.

12% of participants did not know what type of blower was used.

(Note: "gas blower" indicates the universal, or generic, term for a type of machine, rather than the determination of a type of fuel).

3. Incidence of Blower Use:

Leaf blowers have been used in the past twelve months at the properties of 49% of Participants.(#11/36)

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months:

90% of Renters believe blowers are used on their property for 15-30 minutes each work session.

60% of Owners believe blowers are used on their property for 5-10 minutes each work session.

More than one blower is sometimes used.

 

4. Who Operates Blowers.

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months:

8% of blowers that are used, are operated by Participant or a member of their household. These Participants use electric blowers.

84% of blowers that are used, are operated by hired workers.

8% were operated by someone else.

5. Hardscape:

Hardscape includes sidewalks, walkways, driveways, carports, streets, patios, decks, and/or porches.

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months:

43% of the property in over one-third of responses consists of hardscape.

60% of the property in over one-fourth of responses consists of hardscape.

Blower use on hardscape:

68% of Participants state that blowers are used regularly on the hardscape of their property.

On 14% of Participants' properties, blowers are not used on hardscape.

The difference of 18% represents Participants who did not know.

 

LACK OF PROTECTIVE GEAR USE

Where blowers had been used on their property in the previous 12 months, Participants were asked their recollection of the use of protective gear to protect eyesight, hearing and breathing passages of blower operators and of other work crew members. Breathing protection was phrased "protective professional face mask," and it was explained to the majority of Participants that this did not include scarves. Still, many counted what were painter's or other light masks.

Some Participants counted any kind of eye glasses as protective gear.

1. Crew Members Other than Blower Operators:

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months:

95% indicate no protective gear is worn by other members of the crew.

As noted in the section on Residential Landscape Maintenance Practices, when blowers are used, 85% of the time, the work crew size is more than one. It must be assumed that many of them work closer to the blowers than the 50 feet distance for nonoperators recommended by some manufacturers.

2. Breakdown Regarding Specific Safety Gear Worn by Blower Operator:

Of Participants who have had blowers used on their property in the previous 12 months, the majority of answers fell into the following two categories:

Never Worn:

53% of the answers indicate facemask is never worn.

62% of the answers indicate eye protection is never worn.

69% of the answers indicate ear protection is never worn.

Always Worn:

13% of answers indicate a facemask was always worn.

19% of answers indicate eye protection was always worn.

9% of answers indicate ear protection was always worn.

Other answers fell into the "Usually," "Sometimes" or "Almost Never" categories.

Because of comments made by Participants as they answered these questions, it is believed that they vastly understated the lack of protective gear use.

OTHER FINDINGS

Health Issues

1. Household Health:

30% of Participants and/or someone living in their residence suffers from asthma or emphysema, allergies, eczema, and/or hearing loss. In a majority of these households, an adult suffered from more than one of these conditions.

81% of those Participants or someone living in their residence suffer from asthma, emphysema or environmental allergies.

These conditions were specified because of health study evidence that noise and air pollution, especially Particulate Matter ("PM"), contribute to these conditions.

 

2. Health Issues Surrounding the Use of Leaf Blowers:

Participants could list as many health issues as they wished.

86% of Owners voiced awareness of health concerns related to the use of blowers. An overwhelming majority of Owners believe several health problems are linked to the use of blowers.

59% of Renters voiced awareness of specific health concerns related to the use of blowers. Renters were more likely to list a simple "yes," that they are aware of health problems linked to blower use, or to list only one health problem.

A pharmacist Participant pointed out that there has been a dramatic rise in asthma medications she distributes in the past few years. She is particularly concerned about air pollution caused by the dust and all that it encompasses..

Responses were grouped for reporting purposes into concerns about dust, noise and gas fumes. Dust issues were mentioned 55% of the time. Noise issues, 19% of the time, gas fumes, 16% of the time, and no answer or the answer "no" was given 10% of the time.

Brief examples of various health issues, as phrased by Participants:

OWNERS:

NOISE

DUST

GAS FUMES

Miscellaneous

Hearing
problems

Loud

Noise

Sound stress

Allergies

Asthma

Breathing

Bronchial Problems

Dust pollutants

Lung disease

Nose problems

Particles dispersion
Particulate Matter

Pollen

Short(ness of) Breath

2-cycle engine pollution

Cancer (caused by gas blowers)

Inhalation of toxic fumes

Gas exhaust

Gas fumes

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Crazy-making noise.
Debris in ocean.
Dirty: "Have to clean cars, windows, stucco walls off."
Environmentally not good.
Gas is bad for the environment.
"Gastrointernal" (Perhaps meant Gastrointestinal).
Nervous system.
Pets bothered.

RENTERS:

NOISE

DUST

GAS FUMES

Miscellaneous

Hearing problems

Ear problems

Noise

Allergies.

Asthma.

Bacteria Spread.

Dust.

Particulates.

Pollen.

Exhaust.

Gas fumes.

Toxic gas fumes.

Eye damage.
Stress.
Valley Fever.

Quality of Life Issues

1. Compelled to change their routines:

64% of all Participants change their own routines sometime within a typical week due to the use of blowers. 56% of this group (36% of all Participants) do so often or daily due to gas fumes, dust, and/or noise.

These impacts and coping mechanisms include, but are not limited to changing locations in their yard or home, closing windows or doors, difficulty sleeping, studying, concentrating, or having conversations, turning up volume on electronic equipment.

70% of all Participants state that blowers in their neighborhood disturb them.

 

Findings Regarding Legislation

1. Support stronger legislation:

75% of Participants would like to see more restrictions on blowers.

 

62% of all Participants would like to see blowers banned.

2. Knowledge or lack thereof of existing legislation:

There was much confusion regarding the question "Are there any leaf blower restrictions legislated in your local area?" Many participants initially said, "I thought we did, but maybe we don't. They are still using blowers".

53% eventually decided there were local restrictions.

8% thought there were not, and

14% did not know.

3. Lack of Compliance with Blower Bans:

68% of Participants who believe there are blower restrictions legislated in their local area do not believe the regulations are being complied with.

Another 11% did not know.

 

4. Lack of Enforcement:

65% of Participants who believe there are blower restrictions legislated in their local area do not believe the regulations are being enforced. Another 21% did not know.

 

 

Findings Regarding Economics

Of the Participants who have blowers used at their residences,

86% stated they would be willing to discuss a pay adjustment with a worker who was willing to discontinue the use of blowers.

Comments were made by several Participants that they would like to discuss differences in work time, if any, on their property. Many Participants believe there may be no difference in time. Others indicated that there would be large differences.