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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
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Leaf Blower Facts

Health Risks

Leaf blowers create unnecessary noise and air pollution, endangering you, and the community. Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit says gas-powered leaf blowers pose multiple health threats. They include spreading airborne particles, which can provoke asthma and other respiratory diseases, and potential pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Hearing damage from the engine noise and eye injuries from pebbles and twigs propelled by blowers are also cited.

Bad Air

With a muzzle velocity of 150 miles per hour, gas blowers blow herbicides, pesticides, and fecal contaminants up from the ground into the air, especially troubling asthmatics and allergy sufferers, and increasing the threat to everyone.

A gasoline-powered leaf blower generates as much tailpipe emissions in one hour as an automobile does over 100 miles. The difference is that a car emits all that pollution over a big stretch of road, while a leaf blower deposits it all in one back or front yard. A two-stroke commercial blower generates 277 lbs. of volatile organic compounds, 825 lbs. of carbon monoxide and 3.3 lbs.of particulates per year.

Too Loud

A gas-powered leaf blower creates up to 70 decibels of nerve-racking noise at 50 feet, disturbing children's naps, school classrooms, and home offices. This noise pollution is disturbing to people who work at home, or work at night and sleep during the day. Noise pollution from blowers also scares our local wildlife, especially birds. Cal OSHA allows only 20 minutes of aggregate daily exposure to a noise level over 100 decibels, while most gardeners run their blowers at 109, for most of the day. Clearly, most gardeners use leaf blowers far in excess of the level Cal OSHA recommends as safe to the operator. 

Bans do NOT have detrimental fiscal consequences

In none of the cities which have already banned blowers is there any evidence of resulting tax increases, or of financial hardship to gardeners.  The standard refrain from gardeners is that they would have to increase their rates if they couldn’t use their blowers. Yet there’s no evidence of that happening in L.A. or any other cities that have banned blowers.

The following California cities have also banned leaf blowers: Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Carmel, Claremont, Hermosa Beach, Laguna Beach, Lawndale, Los Altos, Los Angeles, Malibu, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, and Palo Alto.


For detailed information, consult this in-depth study from the California Environmental Protection Agency AIR RESOURCES BOARD:

Related information is available at the Air Resources Board website.
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Last updated: Thursday, 11/18/2010


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