Electric VS gas – With Westmount set to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in April of 2019 and Beaconsfield proposing to not only ban leaf blowers but gas-powered lawn mowers as well, perhaps it is time to question whether the whole Greater Montreal area should do the same.
The noise from a gas-powered leaf blower or lawn mower is not only irritating, especially when you are trying to relax outside on a nice sunny day or woken up at 8:00am on the day you finally get to sleep in – but it can also cause hearing loss with regular exposure. In fact, the sound levels of most standard machines are between 65 to 80 decibels up to 50 feet away and at 95 decibels for the person who is using it – where it can result in permanent hearing loss.
Not only that, commercial gas-powered machines are creating a significant amount of air-pollution. They are emitting carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other substances that are harmful to people’s health when they are blown up from the ground into the air. A study by the California Environmental Protection Agency shows that operating a commercial leaf blower for one hour is estimated to emit more pollution than driving a 2016 Toyota Camry for about 1,100 miles.
Both Westmount and Beaconsfield are taking initiatives to put a stop to the hazards involved – and that has many commercial landscapers and gardeners scrambling to find a way to replace their gas-powered machines with electrical ones – at their own cost. Another concern several landscapers have voiced is that the electrical machines are not as powerful as their gas-powered counterparts and therefore it takes them longer to do their work and they do not do as good of a job.
As well, the costs to landscapers for the changes will result in increased fees for their clients. It might seem like a small price to pay for the benefit of people’s well-being and health, but for the contractors it could prove to be a significant enough amount that they are unable to easily absorb.
Another element involved is that leaf blowers should theoretically be used just for fallen leaves – and only in the autumn and then in spring once the snow melts away. Instead, many landscapers or gardeners are using them during the summer to blow away grass clippings, small rocks, dirt and debris – contributing to the noise and pollution
The City of Westmount has already addressed the issue and now permits the use of leaf blowers only between April 1st to May 1st in the spring and October 1st to December 1st in the autumn – and they are only allowed to be used from Monday to Saturday between 8:00am and 6:00pm.
There is a growing movement across Canada with other cities looking to ban gas-powered machines, including Vancouver and Toronto. And it makes sense as new technology moves forward, aimed at cleaning up our environment – noise pollution included.
Perhaps commercial landscapers and even residents themselves should consider the old-fashioned, yet most reliable and cost-efficient way of removing fallen leafs or grass clippings – by using rakes to gather everything and then putting them in bags for composting. For landscapers where time is of great importance, perhaps offering students employment during the summer would help ease the workload and not cost them a fortune. Advancements in manual lawn mowers make it possible to cut the grass quite easily and not only is it good exercise, but for some it can offer a good feeling from having accomplished the work yourself and knowing you have also helped to keep our environment clean – quietly.
How do you handle your yard work?