Leaf Blowers: Time for a Change

Bedford 2020 is working with the Town of Bedford to educate our community on the environmental issues associated with using gas-powered leaf blowers. It’s not just about the noise, but gas-leaf blowers are highly polluting, bad for topsoil retention and very damaging to bird and insect habitats.

The Town of Bedford has produced a brochure about the issues associated with leaf blowers and why to take action. Click here for the brochure in English and in Spanish.  

Why take action?

Where leaf blower use is limited, communities become quieter, and lawns better fed, without leaf blowing.

  • Gas-powered leaf blowers disrupt peace and quiet in neighborhoods; their operation often exceeds the town noise ordinance.
  • Leaf blowers can spread plant disease, damage plants and destroy habitats.
  • Valuable topsoil can be blown away and remaining soil compacted.
  • Fallen leaves, rather than being blown and removed from a property, can be chopped into mulch to feed lawn and garden soil.

Air quality improves when leaf blowers are not used, bringing health benefits to everyone – including landscape workers.

  • Leaf blowers propel into the air particulates and dangerous contaminants — dirt, dust, pollen, fecal matter, mold, fungus spores, pesticides, herbicides, lead, organic and elemental carbon.  Absorbed into the lungs, particulate matter can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, bronchitis, and other lung diseases, particularly among children and the elderly and landscapers.
  • The hydrocarbon emission of a half-hour of yard work with a two-stroke leaf blower is equivalent to that of 40 cars idling for an hour. In one hour, a gas leaf blower can send five pounds of particulates into the air, emitting carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and hydrocarbons.
  • A ban on leaf blowing in the summer months is especially beneficial because the effects of emissions from gas-powered machines are worse in warm weather.

What can you do to reduce these effects?

  • Instead of blowing leaves off a lawn, set your lawnmower blades on high and mow right over the leaves, creating nutritious mulch for the grass.
  • Leave cut grass on the lawn; it’s a soil nutrient.
  • Use electric blowers, which are quieter and less polluting, and now cost no more than gas-powered machines.
  • Reduce noise by running blowers at the lowest throttle speed and for the minimum time needed.
  • Only operate one blower at a time and do not idle.
  • Use rakes or clean up garden beds by hand.
  • On pavement and driveways, do final clean up with a broom.
  • Avoid blowing debris into neighbors’ yards, the street and towards windows and doors.
  • Don’t blow near people and pets.
  • It is not necessary to spend time cleaning up every leaf in a yard while fall is still under way. The yard will be covered in leaves again within a short while.

For more information visit Healthy Yards.