Valerie Seiling Jacobs and Ian Warburg — co-chairs of Save Westport Now — write:
In 2016, Westport beat out 26 towns in the tri-state area for the highest ozone values. Our levels exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 75 parts per billion, by at least 10%.
The latest data indicates that things may be getting worse in Connecticut.
Of course, high ozone levels are bad for the environment and our health. They’re linked to asthma, cancer, heart attacks, pulmonary problems, hypertension, and childhood development issues.
Gas-powered gardening equipment — mowers, hedgers, trimmers and especially leaf blowers — now accounts for 5 to 10% of the total emissions in the US.
A town like Westport probably produces about 25,000 tons of carbon emissions per year — just from lawn care. That’s like adding 5,000 cars to our already congested roads. (On a per household basis, it’s like driving an extra 10,000 miles a year.)
One gasoline-powered leaf blower produces more emissions in half an hour than 40 cars idling.
These machines pose other significant hazards. The exhaust streams from leaf blowers, which often blow over 200 mph, stir up fine particulate matter that often contains pesticides, fertilizers, mold and rodent feces. The fumes can take days to settle down, which makes them especially dangerous for children and pets.
Then of course there’s the noise. Most of these machines exceed the safe decibel limits set by the WHO, EPA and OSHA. Some experts recommend creating “safe zones” around schools and parks to protect children from the noise and other pollution created by leaf blowers.
Save Westport Now believes that by capitalizing on new technology and adopting greener gardening practices, we can reduce the threat these machines pose — and still maintain our beautiful gardens.
This Friday (April 20, Town Hall, 12:30 p.m.), Dr. Jamie L. Banks — executive director of Quiet Communities — will lead a discussion on what Westport can do to protect families from the hazards of gas-powered gardening equipment. She and her colleagues have helped other towns around the country adopt best practices to address the problems caused by this equipment.
We’re sure she can help ours.
(For more information, email ContactSaveWestportNow@gmail.com)