Why some Philadelphians want gas-powered leaf blowers to disappear

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Some Philadelphians are calling for an end to a signature sound of fall: the gas-powered leaf blower.

“If you look at a religious institution or a school, sometimes you’ll see 10 or 12 people out there blowing gas leaf blowers for many hours,” Seth Lieberman, co-founder of Quiet Clean Philly, a group petitioning for a phase-out of gas-powered leaf blowers, said on WHYY’s “Studio 2.” “Just think about what that’s doing to our climate, the health of our communities, and also the health of the laborers who are working there.”

Cities including Burlington, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, Washington have already banned or started phasing out gas-powered leaf blowers. In California, residents won’t be able to buy new gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, or portable generators in the coming years.

Gas-powered leaf blowers emit tiny particles as well as gasses that contribute to ground level ozone — which can exacerbate lung conditions like asthma. According to the California Air Resources Board, running a commercial leaf blower for an hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving a car over 1,000 miles.

“In Philly, more than 1 in 5 kids have asthma,” Lieberman said. “This is a big-deal issue.”

Combustion of petroleum products also results in planet-warming emissions. The city of Philadelphia has committed to zeroing out carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy by 2050 in order to help mitigate climate change.

  • October 17, 2023
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