New Leaf Blower Legislation
Leaf blowers play an integral part in lawn maintenance. They help clean up parking lots and landscapes, clear snow, clean out gutters, and remove general debris. They work faster than brooms and rakes would, and they do it with less manpower. However, we’re finding more and more communities begin to regulate their usage through new leaf blower legislation. Why? Because, for as much help as they are, gas-powered leaf blowers catch a lot of flack over their noise levels, emissions, and perceived dust pollution. Some regulators would prefer to ban them outright, while some are pushing to move toward more environmentally-conscious solutions. We recently discussed some of the issues surrounding possible new leaf blower legislation with Kris Kiser, the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.
What Might Be On The Horizon For Leaf Blower Legislation
The Challenges of Gas-Powered OPE
One of the main challenges with expedient lawn care revolves around noise. Although this certainly applies to almost all gas-powered lawn equipment, leaf blowers have become a problem. The impeller and sound frequency drive a lot of these noise issues. Even electric units, although a definite improvement in this regard, can cause enough of a ruckus to get legislators flustered.
Emissions also present a challenge for gas-powered equipment. What with certain communities taking the hard line against tools and automobiles that pour out the exhaust fumes, phasing out combustion engines seems a likely push.
Dust pollution also factors into the discussion. Regulators complain that leaf blowers can stir up dust into the air, which seems pretty trivial when compared to cars that, on average, kick up about 100 times more dust. But, trivial or not, complaints have arisen, and regulators look to reduce suspended dust and debris.
Some of the Proposed Leaf Blower Legislation
Some regulators have proposed banning all leaf blowers in favor of using water hoses to clear off debris. Admittedly, this would reduce noise and dust pollution, as well as emissions. The problem with this solution is that to clear out lawn debris from places like stadiums, large parking lots, and streets, we would tear through enormous amounts of potable water.
Some authorities in the United States and Canada have started to take steps to ban the sale and usage of gas-powered leaf blowers. For instance, in parts of New Jersy, lawmakers have already banned leaf blowers during certain parts of the day.
A Washington D.C. council has recently launched a bill that would ban that would prohibit the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers beginning in 2022. This would effectively force residents and lawn care businesses to transition to electric platforms that run quietly and with zero emissions. Violators could pay up to $500 in fines, should the bill pass.
What Can Be Done?
Anyone who has been woken up early on a Saturday morning by some ding dong running his lawn equipment can understand why some of this new leaf blower legislation is cropping up. And, from a purely reactionary standpoint, we’d all like to see a bit more courtesy paid by some lawn care Pros.
But, as many lawn crews can attest, regulations that force residents and Pros to buy into electric platforms will ultimately drive up the cost for consumers. Since battery power still can’t quite keep up with gas power in many applications, the same work will take longer, resulting in the need for more manpower.
But, rather than enforcing new, reactionary leaf blower bans, Kiser calls for a more measured approach to running lawn tools. For instance, avoid operating your leaf blower and mowers in the early morning and late at night. Restraint should also be shown on Sundays and holidays. Additionally, when operating around hospitals, churches, cemeteries, etc., avoid running your equipment at full throttle. Common courtesy to neighbors will go a long way.
In fact, OPEI has released a leaf blower “toolkit” to help educate both regulators and users about how to most efficiently and courteously run lawn care equipment. With this release, OPEI not only lays out some suggestions on how to run your equipment more efficiently and quietly, but it also spends some time dispelling some of the current myths about gas-powered OPE. A little education can go a long way if we all work together.
Special thanks to Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. To learn more about OPEI you can visit them here.