PR CALM in the Papers
Record Review 3.5.22
PR CALM Op Ed, Record Review 11.19.21
It’s a little after 8 a.m. and the leaf blowers just arrived in the neighborhood. They will be on one property or another until dusk. The windows are closed, but it doesn’t matter. The leaf blowers are almost as loud with the windows closed as they are with them open.
It’s a crisp early November morning, perfect for a quick walk. But not only is there the noise, there’s the pollution from the machines’ exhaust, and the clouds of dust that these hurricane-force machines stir up.
In Pound Ridge, mornings like this are the rule, not the exception, and it’s all legal. It’s why a group of like-minded neighbors recently formed a community group called Pound Ridge CALM, for Community Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation.
Three weeks ago we began reaching out to friends and neighbors via email.
The premise was simple. We believe that changes to the regulations on gas-powered leaf blowers will help make Pound Ridge more quiet, peaceful, and healthy so that we might better enjoy our property and homes – and the outdoors.
The email asked two questions:
Would you like to see a decrease in the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Pound Ridge?
Can we put you down as a supporter of CALM’s goal of working with the Town Board to find alternatives?
About 90 emails went out. Within days, more than 100 Pound Ridge residents answered yes: they want a decrease in the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, and they support the goal of working with the Town Board to find alternatives.
It’s easy to understand why. Gas-powered leaf blowers are bad for the landscapers who use them, bad for the people who live near where they’re being used, and bad for the property owners who pay for them to be pushed around by landscapers.
Noise from gas-powered leaf blowers raises stress levels and affects your health.
Gas blowers create noise levels upwards of 100 decibels for the operator. The CDC guidelines say that any noise above 70 decibels begins to cause hearing damage and explicitly lists gas-powered leaf blowers as a cause.
We all know from our own experience that noise is associated with psychological stress.
Gas-powered leaf blowers are air-pollution machines. A 2014 study published in Nature Communications showed their harmful emissions to be “124 times higher than an idling truck and included benzene, butadiene, and formaldehyde, which are listed among the four top ranking cancer-causing compounds.”
A 2011 study of two-stroke leaf blowers by Edmunds, the automobile research firm, said, “to equal the hydrocarbon emissions of about a half-hour of yard work with this two-stroke leaf blower, you'd have to drive a Ford Raptor truck for 3,887 miles, or the distance from Northern Texas to Anchorage, Alaska.”
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the United States EPA, and World Health Organization all point to evidence that pollution from engines like those used by gas-powered leaf blowers contributes to cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory disease, cancer, neurological conditions, and premature death.
Backyards and gardens are habitat for wildlife, including in winter when many insects hibernate among fallen leaves. Leaf blowers kill butterflies, moths, fireflies, and scores of species of native bees and other pollinators, all of which are also food for birds.
Other communities have already acted. Here in Westchester alone, Larchmont, Scarsdale, Bedford, Dobbs Ferry, Greenberg, New Rochelle, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Tuckahoe, White Plains, and Yonkers have all enacted leaf blower regulations.
It’s true that Pound Ridge has a noise ordinance. But it allows leaf blowers to be used 10 hours a day, six days a week. In autumn, there is literally almost no daylight hour when you don’t hear leaf blowers.
Pound Ridge CALM is committed to working cooperatively to help make the town more quiet, peaceful, and healthy so that we might better enjoy our property and homes and the outdoors.
We’d love to include you on our list of supporters. Email us at email@example.com and let us know your thoughts.
— Contributing to this were Joe Simonetti, Susan Allport, John Grogan, Alice Gabriel and Tom Andersen of Pound Ridge CALM.