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Kathy Gagnon

Leaf Blowers
By Kathy Gagnon
Apr 21, 2006 - 8:35:00 PM

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I donít have a problem with leaf blowers, itís the excessive use of them by thoughtless people that I do have a problem with.

Lots of my neighbors have leaf blowers which they use occasionally and briefly. No problem, with the exception of one who uses his on an almost daily basis for hours at a time, sometimes several times a day. The migraine-inducing noise aside, the continual blasting of leaves, dirt, dust and debris some days is almost more than I can stand.

Since this neighbor and his leaf blower moved in across the street from me, I have been unable to keep my driveway clear of leaves, that side of my house is coated in a thick layer of dust, and I am forced to keep my windows shut during the nice weather to avoid the noise and the dust.

Not only does this neighbor use his leaf blower to blow everything from his yard to his neighbors and the public right-of-way, he also finds the leaf blower to be a handy blow dryer after washing his car.

This used to be a nice, quiet neighborhood, now I am hard-pressed to be able to work in my home or garden without having to listen to the obnoxious high-pitch shriek from the incessant leaf blower. Across the country, many towns are starting to draw up ordinances to address this same situation. Leaf blowers were originally produced for commercial use. While I admit they are a great tool for homeowners, there needs to be guidelines on usage for those without common sense.

The September 2003 issue of Consumer Reports claims that, although electric leaf blowers cause less air pollution than gas powered ones, they are generally not much quieter. Some even say the pitch of the electric models is much higher and more painful to the ears. With this, I fully agree. Studies also show that loud noises, especially uncontrollable noise, causes stress. Personally, I donít need a study to tell me this. Acoustics experts also agree that the noise from a leaf blower is especially irritating due to the particular high pitch.

Also at issue with the leaf blowers is the fact that they kick up more than just leaves. Leaf blowers produce swirling clouds of airborne debris, including dust, pollen, mold spores, lead from paint chips around homes, pesticides from fertilizers, and dried animal feces. The street dust alone contains lead, organic carbon and elemental carbon. The Lung Association states that elemental carbon usually contains several absorbed carcinogens. Another study found arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and mercury in street dust. Blower dust clouds do not stay on the users property, but migrate to nearby properties and can affect the air quality and lungs of nearby residents, pedestrians, & cyclists.

Most people are fortunate to have considerate neighbors, like the majority of mine, that do not misuse their leaf blower. For those few who need guidelines, maybe itís time we consider it.

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