December 10, 2019
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: The city government of Portland, Oregon has won a “Healthy Soundscape” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for getting rid of its stock of approximately 300 gas-powered leaf blowers. Nick Fish, a city commissioner who oversees Portland’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation, introduced a resolution requiring that a transition to quieter, electric leaf blowers begin in 2021.
Commissioner Fish stated that the city’s current stock of leaf blowers is very damaging to air quality, as they use inefficient two-stroke engines, which spew carbon monoxide and carcinogenic hydrocarbons. Fish cited a study which found that using a two-stroke leaf blower for 30 minutes emits the same amount of pollutants as driving a Ford pick-up truck for nearly 4000 miles.
The other issue with gas-powered leaf blowers, of course, is noise. Noise levels for those holding gas-powered leaf blowers can be as high as 112 decibels (very close to the 120 decibels of a jet plane taking off).
City commissioner Amanda Fritz noted that the ban currently only applies to Portland city government. However, she expressed hope that the current resolution “will lead to a citywide ban.” Portland joins a growing number of US municipalities that have established restrictions or bans on gas-powered leaf blowers, including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and about 400 others.
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “Portland is to be applauded for banning gas-powered leaf blowers among city departments. Gas-powered leaf blowers are extraordinarily loud and unhealthy. They kick up dirt and dust and animal droppings. They screech and howl and irritate. They interfere with communication, sleep and work and degrade the quality of life.”
Rueter noted that “lovers of peace and quiet should seek a total ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. Asking municipal governments to eliminate their own use of gas-powered lawn equipment is a great starting point.” Rueter also stated that “Portland is also to be congratulated for its noise control program and its noise task force, which are both committed to promoting the common good.”
Bonnie Sager, co-founder of Huntington CALM, stated that “gas-powered leaf blowers produce deafening noise, air pollution, and toxic emissions. Landscaping companies should follow the lead of Portland’s city government and replace gas-powered lawn equipment with battery-operated equipment, which is much quieter and cleaner.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization devoted to noise reduction. Past winners of the Healthy Soundscape award include Mike Edison, for filing nuisance lawsuits against major noise polluters; the Raleigh Little Theatre, for instituting sensory-sensitive performances; and Washington, D.C., for banning gas-powered leaf blowers.