Westport’s new gas-powered leaf blower ordinance takes effect tomorrow.
Representative Town Meeting member Kristin Schneeman writes:
In January, Westport became one of the first towns in Connecticut to limit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.
This year, from May 15 through October 15, gas-powered handheld and backpack leaf blowers may not be used on Sundays or holidays; after 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekdays (unless you are a homeowner doing their own yardwork or are using an electric blower.)
Beginning in 2024, gas blowers will be banned between May 15 and October 15 each year. Please let your landscapers and neighbors know!
The town has chosen to regulate the use of gas leaf blowers for a number of reasons:
- Most gas leaf blowers use extremely inefficient “two-stroke” engines that spew large amounts of fine particulate matter and other pollutants into the air. The California Air Resources Board studied lawn and garden equipment and found that the best-selling commercial gas leaf blower put out more smog-forming pollution in one hour than a Toyota Camry driving 1,100 miles.
- Health of residents and workers. The pollutants leaf blowers emit are known to cause cancer, heart problems, respiratory issues, problems in pregnancy, and even premature death for those with certain conditions. Landscape workers suffer the most, due to chronic exposure. Gas leaf blowers can also blast air at 200+ miles an hour, kicking up clouds of dust, mold, pollen, animal feces, and other tiny particles that linger in the air. These can irritate and cause health problems for both humans and pets.
- Gas leaf blowers are so loud that they can cause hearing loss fairly quickly for anyone within a 50-foot radius. Their noise has a strong low-frequency component that makes it travel especially far and pass through walls and windows easily. A typical crew operating multiple machines generates enough noise to exceed EPA community standards for 800 feet in all directions, making it difficult to concentrate for people working from home or attending school remotely.
Electric leaf blower.
- Leaf blowers destroy the natural layer of leaf litter that protects and nourishes plants and wildlife, including pollinators hibernating there for the winter.
- Lawn and garden beauty. Simply leaving short grass clippings on the lawn recycles their nutrients into the soil. In the fall, leaves can be mulched with a lawn mower or left on garden beds, where they will protect plants through the winter, suppress weeds, and improve soil structure and health. Instead of leaf blowers, we hope Westport property owners will use and encourage their landscapers to use some combination of battery-powered tools, mulch mowing, rakes, and “leaving the leaves” in garden beds.
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