Review of Leaf Blower Impact
January 15, 2008
The Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) was requested by Supervisor Feiner to study the impact of leaf blowers in the community and make recommendations as to how and if the existing Town of Greenburgh regulations of leaf blowers should be changed.
The existing law regulates the noise level generated by leaf blowers and other equipment and sources.
§ 380-7. Prohibited acts and associated sounds.
The operation of gasoline-powered power lawn mowers, leaf blowers or other gasoline-powered lawn or garden equipment or construction tools between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. any weekday, before 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Saturday or any holiday or before 11:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Operation of a gasoline-powered power lawn mower, leaf blower or other gasoline-powered lawn or garden equipment or construction tool in a residential zone may not exceed 75 dBA at any time. Operation of gasoline-powered leaf and garden blowers in excess of 55 dBA is prohibited from May 1 through October 1 of each year
The CAC considered information obtained from the following sources.
· Scientific commentary on the negative health effects of leaf blowers
· Scientific commentary on the negative environmental effects of leaf blowers
· Letters sent to the City Council of Yonkers identifying the negative effects of particulate pollution caused by leaf blowers
· Letters sent to Supervisor Feiner by Greenburgh residents complaining about leaf blower noise levels
· Public comment offered at the July 8, 2007 CAC meeting
· Laws regulating the use of leaf blowers in other Westchester communities
· Westchester Co. laws regulating the use of leaf blowers
· Chief John A. Kapica’s response to CAC inquiries about noise code enforcement history and problems
The CAC concluded that there are significant negative effects to health and the environment associated with the use of leaf blowers. Health is impacted negatively by;
1. Deteriorated air quality resulting from engine exhaust,
2. Deteriorated air quality resulting from particulates blown into the air,
3. Hearing deterioration resulting from exposure to loud noise,
4. Increased health issues associated with exposure to loud noise.
The environment is impacted negatively by;
5. Carbon exhaust that contribute to global warming,
6. The impediment of the formation of organic materials necessary to regenerate the soil, thus impeding the promotion of healthy vegetation useful to control flooding and water purification.
The CAC’s review established that all surrounding communities regulate the use of leaf blowers. The use of leaf blowers is completely banned during the summer month in Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Pelham and Yonkers. The negative effects are greatest in hot humid weather. There exist alternatives for ground maintenance that can be used during the summer months. It should be remembered that prior to the 1970’s there were no leaf blowers.
During the time of the CAC’s study Westchester County adopted legislation regulating exhaust levels of leaf blowers. By 2009 almost all leaf blowers will have to be in compliance. The county law wouldn’t apply to landscapers who only do commercial properties. It does not apply to home owners. The CAC believes this law will mitigate negative effects one and five.
The CAC believes the only way to mitigate the remaining negative effects is to reduce the use of leaf blowers. An all out ban during the summer months would cause the least inconvenience and provide the greatest benefit. Chief Kapica has indicated that a complete ban would be the easiest to enforce.
At its June 11, 2007 meeting, the CAC voted to recommend that the Town have a total ban on the use of leaf blowing equipment from June 1 to September 30. After the review of additional information, the CAC at its meeting on Dec. 10, 2007 again voted to recommend the total ban from June 1 to September 30, The CAC hopes that the Town Board will adopt this recommendation swiftly so that it can be implemented for the 2008 landscaping contract period.