Monthly Archives: November 2014

Here is a letter from the Silent Spring Institute concerning the health effects of gasoline-powered leaf blowers.

July 10, 2014

To whom it may concern,

As scientists at Silent Spring Institute, we are writing to share our concerns about the health effects of gasoline-powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscaping equipment. Our recently published review of likely breast carcinogens (available at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1307455/) identified exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and many polyaromatic hydrocarbons as particularly high concerns based on their strength as genotoxic carcinogens and the potential for high exposure both from gasoline fumes and from the exhaust of gasoline powered devices such as leaf blowers. The Institute of Medicine also recently identified benzene and butadiene as two of the environmental chemicals most likely to increase breast cancer risk (their report is available at http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Breast-Cancer-and-the-Environment-A-Life-Course-Approach.aspx).

In addition to possible links with breast cancer, these chemicals and others in gasoline fumes and exhaust have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems as well as cancer at multiple sites.

Sincerely,

Julia Green Brody

Executive Director, Silent Spring Institute

Ruthann Rudel

Research Director, Silent Spring Institute

Janet Ackerman

Staff Scientist, Silent Spring Institute

Noise Free America endorses the request of Huntington, New York CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation) that Home Depot stop selling gas-powered leaf blowers, as it violates the company’s stated concern for environmental preservation.
The Huntington CALM statement is as follows:
Huntington CALM (Citizens Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation), would like to request that Home Depot stop selling gasoline leaf blowers.  They are dangerous to the environment and to the American people.

This change in policy would align with your company’s stated environmental policy: 

“Environmental Principles:
At the Home Depot, we realize how vitally important it is to conserve our environment. The following principles help to guide us in our actions and lead us down a path of sustainability.

We are committed to minimizing the environmental health and safety risk for our associates and our customers.
We will encourage our customers to become environmentally conscious shoppers.”

Gas-powered leaf blowers spew up to 30 percent of their gasoline directly into the environment.  In summer months and in warm climates, their fumes combine with sunlight to create ground level ozone, a cancer causing agent.  Ground-level ozone is concentrated around homes and work places, making it more dangerous than other forms of air pollution.  Particulates from gas-powered leaf blowers can take up to several days to settle, so the exposure time is lengthy.

Research has recently demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer from the benzene and 1,3-butadiene emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers. They also produce other residues that are considered  endocrine disruptors.  These can be linked to asthma, cancer and other illnesses.

Gas-powered leaf blowers blow at speeds of 200 mph, causing loss of precious topsoil and desiccation of leaves and plantings.  Gas-powered leaf blowers operating at this velocity blow up dirt, dust, rodent feces, heavy metals, mold, fungus, and weed seeds.  They are not a friend to the environment. 

The noise level of gas-powered leaf blowers is above the World Health Organization and OSHA’s recommended levels.  Their decibel level causes hearing loss and tinnitus; the noise increases blood pressure and can cause arrhythmias.

Since Home Depot carries lithium-ion battery-powered and electric blowers, you are already offering customers a choice that is environmentally friendlier.

For all these reasons and several more, we have received the endorsement of the following groups:

Mt. Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit
American Academy of Pediatrics, Long Island Chapter
Grassroots Environmental Education
Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition
Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
The LI Sierra Club
The American Lung Association, NE Chapter
The Asthma Coalition of Long Island
Huntington Conservation Board
Healthy Planet Radio Show

CVS drug stores took a corporate stance not to sell cigarettes.  This was a bold and powerful statement that has raised public awareness about the ills of cigarette smoking. CVS is now educating its customers on how to stop smoking.  Home Depot could help do the same with regard to gas-powered leaf blowers. We ask you to partner with us to make our neighborhoods cleaner and healthier. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Bonnie Sager
Dr. Lucy Weinstein
Chair, Environmental Health Committee
American Academy of Pediatrics, LI Chapter
For Huntington CALM