July 1, 2017
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, has won a “Quiet Hero” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for enacting major restrictions on the use of leaf blowers.
Legislation passed by the Newton city council in January 2017 requires that leaf blowers must be 65 decibels or quieter–and must have a manufacturer’s label attesting that they meet this standard. In addition, gas-powered leaf blowers will be banned between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During the summer, each lot will be allowed only one electric-operated leaf blower or battery-operated leaf blower.
Further, leaf blower use is only allowed between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm weekdays. (Previously, leaf blowers could be used until 8:00 pm on weekdays.) On Saturdays, leaf blowers may be used between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Newton Wicked Local notes that “on Sundays and legal holidays, leaf blower use will only be allowed by residents on their own properties, between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm.”
Representatives from the group “Newton Safe and Sound” appeared at the city council meeting, holding signs and wearing stickers which read,” Our health comes first.”
Dr. Bonnie Sager, an ophthalmologist in Huntington, New York and the co-founder of Huntington Citizens Appeal for Leaf Blower Moderation, stated that “the Newton city council is to be applauded for their leadership in recognizing the serious, health, environmental, and quality of life issues associated with the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Newton resident Karen Bray deserves special recognition for her tenacity and hard work in spearheading this successful initiative. Kudos to both Karen and the Newton city council.”
Professor Marjorie McCullagh of the University of Michigan School of Nursing commented that “while communities nationally are struggling with the issue of leaf blower noise, Newton has emerged as a leader by placing limits on leaf blower use. Scientific evidence over recent decades has consistently shown that loud noise, such as that generated by leaf blowers, is hazardous to human health. Excessive noise increases the risk for serious disease, including high blood pressure, cardiac events, and stroke.”
In addition, according to Professor McCullagh, “Research studies indicate that a reduction in environmental noise levels by five decibels would reduce the prevalence of hypertension and coronary heart disease by 1.8 percent, with an annual economic benefit of $3.9 billion. The health and economic benefits of noise reduction are very clear.”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “Newton is leading the way in protecting public health. Gas-powered leaf blowers kick up dirt and debris and emit toxins. Most people find their high-pitched noise very annoying. The action of the Newton city council to place significant restrictions on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers is a very positive development, which should be imitated by other municipalities.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to excessive noise. Past winners of the Quiet Hero award include Maplewood, New Jersey; Battle Creek, Michigan; and the Italian Supreme Court (for upholding a ban on loud car stereos).