15 Sep 2014
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Unexpected Health Threat Starts in Spring

Does the noise from leaf blowers negatively impact our health?

Unexpected Health Threat Starts in Spring

The tulips are pushing up from the hardened earth and there are flickering buds on the trees. After a long, chilly winter, spring is finally upon us. But just when everything begins to bloom in a rainbow color, we’re invaded by the incessant scream of leaf blowers.

Studies have concluded that the sound spectrum of the gasoline-powered leaf blower contains high intensity and high frequency noise, which can have negative health impacts including noise-induced hearing loss. 

Noise-induced stimulation of the nervous system can result in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Noise has an adverse impact on sleep, communication and effects of performance and behavior. The unhealthful noise is only part of the negative impact of leaf blowers; they’re a significant factor in creating air pollution. 

The major pollutants from a two-stroke engine are oil-based particulates, a mixture of hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide. When landscapers blow our yards they push dust, fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt, which consists of lead and organic and elemental carbon into the very air our children and we breathe. 

Often, operators blow dust and debris into the streets, leaving the dust to be re-suspended by passing vehicles. Some landscapers wear protective masks over their faces and headsets to protect their ears. But what about the rest of us? All we can do is stay in our homes or flee until the noise passes. 

What are the options? Approximately 20 California cities have banned leaf blowers. We should consider doing the same. At the very least the village, the county and the State should mandate that two-cycle engines be banned and quieter models be introduced. 

High intensity noise levels can be significantly reduced with newer machines and some landscapers are now using them. There is also the electric option, which is quieter still. Walk around and note the difference.

Ticket landscapers who blow debris into the street. The Village has an ordinance preventing people from pushing plowed snow back into the street. Yard debris should also be a violation. The bottom line is that we have an environmental issue and we have a health issue with leaf blowers. 

Do we sit by and ignore it or do we become proactive and try and improve our quality of life? Let the trustees know how you feel.  http://www.ci.rockville-centre.ny.us/

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