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Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Ban Proposed

Your leaf or lawn blower may save your back, but two state legislators say they’re not saving the environment.

Sen. John Liu, D-Bayside, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, have introduced legislation (S.1113/A.5375) to prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf and lawn blowers between May 1 and Sept. 30. Liu introduced the legislation last year and reintroduced it recently.

Liu and Dinowitz say gas-powered leaf blowers pollute the environment through exhaust emissions, noise and particulates and dust blown into the air. They cite Department of Environmental Conservation statistics showing carbon monoxide emissions from gas-powered leaf blowers for one hour equalling carbon monoxide emissions from a car being driven for eight hours.

Leaf blowers, they say, push 300 to 700 cubic feet of air per minute at 150 to 280 miles an hour, with the resulting dust containing particles that include pollen and mold, animal feces, heavy metals and chemicals from herbicides and pesticides. Lastly, they say many leaf blowers on the market exceed 70 decibels at 50 feet. A leaf blower rated at 70 decibels at 50 feet may generate noise levels over 105 decibels at the operator’s ears.

“Much of the work done by gas powered leaf and lawn blowers is often unnecessary, and can be done by more environmentally friendly tools, such as a mulching mower. This bill aims to cut down on the careless usage of leaf blowers by restricting its usage as a landscaping tool in the non-fall months,” Liu and Dinowitz said in their legislative justification.

If the legislation passes, anyone who uses a gas-powered leaf or lawn blower from May 1 to Sept. 30 could be fined $100.

At least 19 New York towns, villages or cities have similar bans in place. The town of North Hempstead passed a law in 2019 that bans the use of gas-powered leaf blowers on property within the town’s unincorporated areas between June 15 and Sept. 15.

In September 2019, the town of East Hampton passed a law banning the commercial use of gas and diesel-powered leaf blowers for the summer season. A first-time offender will face a possible $250 to $1,000 fine. Those fines go up to $500 and $2,500 for second-time offenders, and $1,000 to $5,000 for a third. Homeowners who want to use gas-powered leaf blowers are subject to curfews on the equipment.

In April 2019, the town of Southampton also issued a leaf blower ban. Landscapers and homeowners will only be permitted to use gas-powered leaf blowers from September 21 through May 19, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The use of the equipment will be prohibited on Sundays throughout the year, as well as federal and state holidays. The restrictions also apply to tennis and beach clubs, as well as to municipal employees.

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