Spreading Dry Animal Feces and Other Leaf Blower Dangers

​So Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera just called up to say that yesterday's post trashing his proposal to ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers in Coral Gables was unfair. He claims to have said many other more intelligent things to a reporter than, "Some people look at leaf blowers as a necessity. I look at it as a convenience."

Then he sent this namby-pamby fact sheet (which you'll find after the jump) describing all the horrible pollution caused by leaf blowers.

A grandmother in her late 50s with a rake can clean a garden as fast as a guy with a blower, he notes. And he cites California cities that have banned em -- Carmel and Beverly Hills among em. Note to Ralph: That's why we don't live in California. Second note to Ralph: Stop driving that damn car all over town and ride a bike. That'll save some energy. Third note to Ralph: Now you have REALLY pissed off my grandmother.

Miami is a swamp, Ralph. Things stick to the sidewalk. What we call grass here is crabgrass anywhere else. You need a blower to move it after you cut the lawn.

Maybe this is just a Coral Gables thing. Down there, you know, people like Ralph hire workers to clean their sidewalks. They don't actually do it themselves. So they don't see the necessity. Maybe you people who live in the City Beautiful thinks you are like Beverly Hills dwellers. You're not! Mr. Cabrera, grab your damn rake and head to my house. We'll have a blow-off!

Leaf Blower Facts

The convenience of leaf blowers comes at a cost to public health, the nation's energy supplies, and your wallet. Communities throughout the United States and Canada have either restricted and or banned their use, and some, like Carmel, Beverly Hills, Palo Alto, Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, California have banned them outright. Here are some facts about leaf blowers that you ought to know:

1.Leaf blowers generate large amounts of airborne dust, including mold spores, allergens, dried animal feces, pesticides and fine particles that increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis, or other lung diseases, and reduce the ability to fight infection. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board, in their brochure "Particulate Matter Air Pollution: A Threat To Our Health," advise us; "Avoid using leaf blowers."

2.Leaf blower motors are large emitters of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and fine particles too small to be eliminated by the body's defenses. The gas-oil mixture that fuels two-stroke engines is especially toxic. The American Lung Association reports that a leaf blower motor releases as much smog as 17 cars. This pollution is known to cause cancer and cardiopulmonary disease.

3.The noise from a leaf blower can reach 90-100 decibels at the operator's ear. According to the World Health Organization, there is an increasing risk of irreversible hearing damage from noise above 75 decibels. Hearing protectors do not necessarily prevent the damage. Blower noise also increases the risk of accidents, causes sleep deprivation, affects the gastrointestinal system, and increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks. Noisy environments impair the hearing health, language development, and learning disabilities of children, and may affect their behavior.

4.Small, two-cycle gasoline engines are notoriously inefficient, consuming large amounts of fuel that the country cannot afford to lose. Electric powered leaf blowers are less polluting and less noisy, but the adverse effects of airborne dust are the same.
5.Leaf blowers have been shown to cause serious damage to soil and landscape plants with their dust-laden 200 mph, hurricane force winds, which cause dehydration and leaf-burn, retard new growth, clog leaf pores, and spread disease spores, insect eggs, and weed seeds.

6.For small lawns of less than a half-acre, garden rakes are nearly as quick as leaf blowers, and do a better job. In Los Angeles, a contest sponsored by the Department of Water & Power showed that a grandmother in her late 50s, using a rake and broom cleaned an area faster than electric leaf blowers and nearly as fast as a gas-powered machine - and she did a better job. Rakes cost far less than leaf blowers, they last much longer, and they require no maintenance. For your health, your safety, and the health of your lawn and garden, use a rake, and ask your landscaper to do the same.

For more information about the many adverse effects of leaf blowers can be found at the following websites:

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse