Friday, August 1, 2008

Leaf Blowers Create Just Another Preventable Source of Noise and Air Pollution

I was recently walking through The Cleveland Metro-Parks When I noticed what appeared to be about as effective as bailing water out of a boat with a bucket full of holes--and that is, the use of a leaf blower. Are you disturbed by those who seem to use them obsessively while the noise the machines make is especially irritating?

Next to illegally modified pipes on motorcycles or the same on cars--or next to the noise from boom cars, incessant use of a leaf blowers tops my list as the most annoying and frequent noise pollution sound to date! Below are a couple of letters

I have written in the past few weeks about them and why I feel they are not needed. One is to the Cleveland Metro-Parks, the other to the discussion forum on the Cleveland Hts. Observer. If you have a problem with the abuse of these machines in your neighborhood, maybe the letters will help to enlighten you as to why these machines are a problem.

At the end of the letters, you will find a video link. This video is demonstrating just how moronic this leaf blowing practice can be. 4 guys with wide rakes and a tarp could have whisked up the leaves in less time and with more accuracy and no noise and pollution!...and perhaps a bit of needed exercise for Americans! If these are so convenient and quick...then why does it take this many guys to do this? Imagine the noise! This video is a poster child helping the effort in corralling these things!

Video - two men using awful, ghastly leaf-blowers

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=LeWA5dYpMyE





Dear Hts. Observer Group,

I have read this post about leaf blowers and have much to share about this topic. To be honest, these machines, and the incessant abuse of them, are one of the reasons I moved out of the heights. (Overlook Rd…a cacophony of leaf blower noise. Morning noon and night….)

Being a noise pollution awareness activist, I have learned a heap about these machines--and the ideology that they “save time” is actually nonsense. The Sacramento California debate on this “blows” that logic out of the water. If anyone wants to see it, let me know. These machines merely give the illusion of clean. It’s really like running a giant vacuum cleaner outside without a bag or filter. Needed? Really??? Think about this for starters…..Since when did a parking lot have to be anti-septic?

In the very recent past, yard services, which were fewer, would have about 4 guys with wide rakes, a tarpaulin.. And a truck…. They would corral the leaves on the tarp, pick them up and place them in the truck to be taken to a proper place for composting, or legal disposal. (hopefully!) Doing the yard this way was very quick and efficient…Oh…and exercise too…How dare we, the fattest nation in the world get a bit of exercise!

I have witnessed unbelievable uses of leaf blowers---uses that were NEVER intended for these machines. I will list a few of those ridiculous uses in a second, but first, I want to finish the former…. A most idiotic behavior I witness all the time---to have 4 guys standing against the wind trying to corral the leaves into one place, without success……yet they continue to blow against gusts of wind up to 20 miles per hour…
In the time they take to do this, those guys with the rakes could have been finished.

The important thing to remember is that these machines blow up a whole lot more than leaves…rodent spittle, pollen, mold, fertilizers…. road dirt, etc. etc.. and a host of many other particulates, therefore the unbelievable uses I alluded to above, I will now mention.

They are but not limited to: blowing along a curb on a dry dusty day--making a dust storm polluting ambient air levels with all the dust, PLUS the especially irritating high frequency noise, blowing rooftops near hospital entrances or other public buildings where either children, elderly, or sick need access.... and yet another counter productive use----the utterly senseless blowing in the wind!


Now, how did we come to using these and why do users go overboard with using them?

Well, as I said at the beginning of this thing, they give the illusion of clean, which helps to foster excessive use….they are quick to do what they do, making a certain given area only appear clean…BUT this is just temporarily …then when all the dust etc. settles, it’s right back where we started! Cleaner? Think about this…. If you live next to someone who uses one of these things, you will likely find yourself washing your car or windows twice as much because the dust settles all over buildings, windows, cars, etc… But because the immediate area looks so clean…and for goodness sakes….it was a quick effort….we will find uses going above and beyond trying to clean what we NEVER would have normally done when we just used a rake or broom. So in a way, these things make us tape into our obsessive compulsive behaviors.

Additionally, people who use these incessantly have become so accustomed to seeing their yards free and sterile of any harmless parts of nature such as small plant clippings, tree flower pedals, tiny sticks, and so on, that they actually have conditioned themselves to think the yard always has to appear this way! The minute a flower pedal drops from a magnolia tree, out comes the blower. Again, helping to foster obsessive behaviors.

I remember one time I saw a guy kneeling down on his driveway aiming one of these things as though he were about to sink the winning shot in a pool tournament…. “Hmmm“…he subconsciously thinks to himself…”Look how clean I got that driveway“… “I think I’ll just go on and on and clean the curb, the walk, ever little bit of detritus from the yard, while I am at it.”


In other words, these things make us do what is NOT necessary to do, by giving that quick clean all over impression, hence the idea is born that thinks these are needed to get big jobs done. Fact is, these things made people make a big job because we would have never done this much with the former tools. It was NOT necessary then, and it is not necessary now. As I said above, since when did a parking lot have to appear antiseptic? I have watched closely the specimens who incessantly use these and have detected an obsessive behavior pattern in all of them. I also saw one guy chasing one single leaf in the summer down the street until I just went over to him, picked it up, handed it to him and said… “Here”… Another time I witnessed someone actually trying to blow leaves OFF of a tree…Another person blowing out their car…. I mean seriously… How lazy has such a machine made some people? It looks pretty silly to see these guys dress up like ghost busters in back packs and all…ready to take on mother nature.

How have these things made quality of life better? By making it to where we don’t even want to open up our doors and windows due to the noise…from so many of these things being used all the time…or because of the dust that blows in to our homes? GOT ALLERGIES, ASTHMA? How does constant use of such a noisy polluting machine build a strong community where neighbors actually want to sit outside and enjoy summer peace.. converse.. hear sounds of backyard friendly nature?

We are cooped up all winter, then we have to hear this the moment the weather breaks. With so many other forms of noise pollution, some that are unavoidable, and maybe necessary, such as road repair---but blowers are just one form that has no social redeeming value. (by the way, let’s not bring up the illegally modified exhausts on cars and motorcycles or the same in illegal sound producing car audio equipment--another story unto itself--another day that I am on top of as well!)

How can a community be “green” and continue to use these machines that basically assault people on an ongoing basis with noise? They really aren’t that old…have not been around very long so what in the world did we do before them? I think it would be a much more social idea to return to those days of effective simplicity.

If these are such a save…then why have several communities (over 400 last count) across the nation place restrictions on certain uses of these things, or in some cases, flat out bans. L.A. for example, bans gas powered leaf blowers due to the combined 3 forms of air pollution---one from the engines, the other from the dust they catapult at 150 to 200 MPH into the ambient air…and the third, from the noise pollution.

An interesting fact put out by the US census Bureau….More than any other reason, whether you live in rural, city, suburb, the top reason people flee any given area is noise…so the noisier it gets, the more likely the quality of life and property value will eventually decline. Noise has many negative, harmful, and costly health implications as outlined in reports by the Southern Medical Journal and World health Organization---and this blowing business is just sooo unnecessary.

In addition, according to the information from newspaper articles we receive each day on the anti-noise lists, at least 3 times a month someone is either shot, beaten, attacked, or stabbed over a noise incident. If we do have to live with incessant blowing and a mindset that has been conditioned to think blowers are needed….then their absolutely needs to be an education as to the problems they create, so proper restrictions be placed upon certain uses and times when used--and at least, the use gets restricted to what they were actually intended to do---and that is, to blow leaves out of hard to reach areas ON the yard. As far as I am concerned, reducing this kind of activity is just a simple small step in becoming a more environmentally and socially responsible community.

It doesn’t matter how good these machines may appear to make any given community look….. If using them creates unnecessary---and just one more source of preventable air and noise pollution that degrades the quality of life that makes a place great in the first place--they aren’t worth it. Add up all the users, and we have a lot of dust and noise--especially when some people just don’t know when to turn it off! Sorry, I am just one of those individuals who has the selfish interest of wanting to breath and enjoy some reasonable right to peace. If you want to learn more about the problems these machines create, see www.noiseoff.org and get the facts.



Dear Metro-Parks,

I am the person who called to express some concerns I had with a method I have learned that you administer to your park maintenance crews. After a discussion with a couple guys on your crew, they suggested I contact The Metro-Parks directly. Thank you for returning my call.

The issue is with the inappropriate use of gas powered leaf blowers. As an allergy sufferer, an environmentally concerned person, and heavy user of the park system, I would like to enlighten you about these machines. I noticed your crew using them to blow along the curb in the parking lot at the boat marina. While it is unfortunate to have the general public abusing the uses of such a machine, it is really disappointing when I see those employed via public government using them. Why is the above use an inappropriate use for such a machine?

For starters, what I saw was not using these machines for their intended use, and that is---blowing leaves. What your employees are doing is blasting a powerful shot of air at some 150 to 200 miles per hour stirring up road dirt, pollen, mold, spittle, lawn chemicals, animal feces and a host of other detritus---into the ambient air (25 to 50 feet above us---breathing air) polluting a radius of approximately 50 to 75 yards. In addition, the fumes from these machines adds to the ambient air pollution. When you use the machine like this it only gives the illusion of clean--yet actually rearranges dust outside that was settled for nature to wash away--so that it settles on cars, windows, buildings, etc…as well as in people’s lungs.

I expect better awareness from a park system which boasts so much nature---in being more environmentally responsible. What I saw your employees doing could have been more responsibly done, and actually quicker….. with a push broom and rake. A parking lot does not have to appear sterile, especially when what they were sweeping and putting into plastic bags was mostly natural bio-degradable detritus which should, ideally, be scattered in the brush nearby, so it can get recycled back into nature--and not placed in counter productive non-biodegradable plastic bags. The myth surrounding these machines is convenience. The reality of using one is the equivalent of running a dirty sweeper inside your home without a bag or filter.

I also want to mention that I go to the parks to find a small semi-oasis away from the city--and a place of reasonable quiet. Running a leaf blower for 30 minutes to do a job I could have done in 15 using traditional methods, somehow undermines the whole experience of being in such a park. The noise is quite annoying . I would like to see the park with such a mission statement it has, to spend less time concerned with a parking lot and the cars needs, and more time focusing on the environmental integrity of the park, for walkers, bicyclists, and hikers. This means picking up the litter I see accumulating near the bluff sides and along trails. I would rather see the parks contain healthier river and forest systems than healthy parking lots.

It is no wonder that some 400 communities across the country have--- or are in the process of legislating stricter regulation on obsessive and abusive uses of blowers. Even a vacuum system (blower with a vacuum and bag) would be a better alternative if you still feel the lot has to look sterile. If you would like to know more about why these machines are a problem and why their use should be limited, please visit the website www.noiseoff.org Thank you for taking the time to consider these concerns and I hope when I go to the park again, I am not assaulted from the noise and ambient air pollution created by the dirt blower.

Respectfully,
Robert S. Carillio

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