Leaf Blower Noise and Its Consequences Noise interferes with communication, sleep, and work. Sacramento’s city code states “Pile integrity test pdf person in the city is entitled to live in an environment free from excessive, unnecessary or offensive noise levels.
The decibel scale is logarithmic–each increase of 10, say 60 to 70, represents a noise 10 times louder. Leaf blowers are routinely used less than 50 feet from unconsenting pedestrians and neighboring homes that may be occupied by home workers, retirees, day sleepers, children, the ill or disabled, and pets. Noise can impair sleep even when the sleeper is not awakened. Don’t be fooled by comparison of 65 decibels from a leaf blower to the volume of a normal conversation. You wouldn’t want a noise in your home as loud as a normal conversation that you had not invited and could not control. In any case, no backpack blower on the market meets the 65 dB standard. Blower noise can impair gardeners’ hearing.
A blower measuring 70-75 dB at 50 feet can reach 90-100 dB at the operator’s ear. OSHA requires hearing protection for noise over 85, and according to the World Health Organization, “there is an increasing predictable risk” of hearing damage from noise above 75 dBA. Use of certain antibiotics can create vulnerability at lower noise levels. Anecdotally we have examples of hearing loss in gardeners. Blower noise endangers gardeners in other ways as well. Noise controls space like an occupying army, travels through walls, enters homes, molests bodies, violates privacy, stops thought, batters each of us into isolation. Excerpt from Noise: A Health Problem, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Noise Abatement and Control, August 1978.
This can be obtained from the web site of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse at www. Sacramento Bee, November 10, 1997, “Whining leaf blowers leave ears aching for quiet”. Environmental Health Criteria 12: Noise, World Health Organization, 1980. Consumer Reports, April 1997, page 8. The magazine reports Echo’s new blower measured 69. The Echo PB46LN was no better. For the Sacramento Bee article listed at Note 2, reporter Edie Lau interviewed Michael H.
Harvey Wichman, a Claremont psychology professor. Noise, Ears, and Hearing Protection”, a public service brochure of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. The warning about the limits of hearing protection are echoed by Dr. Comments on Occupational Noise to the OSHA Standards Planning Committee” by Alice Suter, Ph. 359, 1985 Wallace Street, Vancouver BC Canada V6R 4H4. 5 particles, which are man-made and do not occur in nature, evade the body’s defense systems.
Two-stroke engine fuel is a gasoline-oil mixture, thus especially toxic. Particles from combustion are virtually all smaller than PM2. According to the Lung Association, a leaf blower causes as much smog as 17 cars. Street dust includes lead, organic carbon, and elemental carbon according to a study conducted for the ARB. The Lung Association states “the lead levels are of concern due to great acute toxicity Elemental carbonusually contains several adsorbed carcinogens.
The ARB states that a leaf blower creates 2. The EPA and ARB, in their brochure “Particulate Matter Air Pollution: A threat to our health” advise us, “Avoid using leaf blowers. The multi-agency Best Available Control Measure Working Group agrees. These reinforce conclusions reported in the August 1997 issue of Consumer Reports, which described the effect on preschool children as “especially startling.
It is desirable in the upper atmosphere, but irritating to living tissue. PM is often described by its particle size as PM 10 or PM2. 5, a number that refers to maximum diameter in microns. 5 is a subcategory of, and contained within, PM10. The California Air Resources Board”, a brochure currently available at the ARB offices, 2020 L Street, Sacramento CA 95814. California Air Resources Board: Status Report 1995-96. American Lung Association of Sacramento – Emigrant Trails, “Fact Sheet: Leaf Blower Air Pollution Impacts Study Results.
County of Fresno, Inter Office Memo, October 14, 1982. Reported in the Sacramento Environmental Commission’s “Leaf Blower Recommendations From the Subcommittee”, October 27, 1997. Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1997, “Alerts Urged at Lower Smog Levels”. Consumer Reports, August 1997, page 36, “Air Quality Special Report: Clearing the air”. In this long, forcefully written, informative article, the magazine reports that, “Outdoor air–even air that meets present pollution standards–still can be hazardous to your health. The article explains that the scientific evidence is “remarkably consistent” and significant, in spite of assertions to the contrary by polluting industries.