Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment: Unleashing 18,000 Tons of Air Pollution in PA, Reveals PennEnvironment Study

lawn mower© MariuszBlach from Getty Images / Canva

PENNSYLVANIA — With fall in the air and leaf blowers going at full blast in neighborhoods across Pennsylvania, a new report by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center shows that gas-powered lawn mowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden equipment create significant  amounts of pollution and noise for local communities across the state.

In 2020, lawn and garden equipment emitted an estimated 965 tons of fine particulates in Pennsylvania – an amount equivalent to the pollution from more than 10 million typical cars, according to Lawn Care Goes Electric: Why it’s time to switch to a new generation of clean, quiet electric lawn equipment. Among all states for fine particulate pollution emissions from lawn and garden equipment, Pennsylvania ranked 4th. Among all counties, Montgomery County ranked 20th, producing more fine particulates than from lawn equipment in the entire state of Delaware.

“Everyone’s experienced the frustration of listening to the loud roar of lawn care equipment being used nearby, but probably most local residents are unaware of the massive amounts of air pollution being released in their proximity at the same time,” said Ellie Kerns, Climate and Clean Energy Associate with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “The good news is, we no longer have to put up with it because cleaner, quieter electric lawn equipment is capable, affordable and readily available.”

In 2020, lawn and garden equipment in Pennsylvania emitted more than a million tons of climate and air pollutants. All this unnecessary pollution imposes a significant health cost. The pollutants emitted by gas-powered lawn equipment include fine particulates (PM2.5), ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and air toxics such as benzene1,3-butadiene and formaldehyde. Exposure to these pollutants in our air is linked to health problems including asthma attacks, reproductive ailments, mental health challenges, cancer and even premature deaths. Because they burn fossil fuels, gas lawn mowers and leaf blowers also emit carbon dioxide, the leading contributor to climate change.

READ:  Pennsylvania DEP Fines Equitrans Over $1 Million for Environmental Violations

“Noise from gas-powered leaf blowers disturbs the peace of autumn, but the auditory harms are even more troubling,” said Anne Dicker, co-founder of citizen group Quiet Clean Philly. “The roar from these machines can cause permanent hearing loss, negatively impact the immune system and cardiovascular health, and is associated with increased social aggression and conflict. A cleaner and quieter Philadelphia is one without these harmful gas-powered machines.”

Fortunately, electric lawn equipment has evolved into an attractive alternative to highly polluting gas-powered tools.

“Sustainable Lawn Care Services is a forward-thinking lawn care company. We use all battery powered equipment throughout our services. As well as providing lawn treatments with a focus on healing soil biology, instead of pumping our planet full of synthetic chemicals,” said Gerhart Arndt, owner of Sustainable Lawn Care Services, based in Conshohocken. “Using all battery-powered equipment is much easier and safer for the operator, as well as reducing maintenance and upkeep to a minimum.”

The report makes specific policy recommendations that Pennsylvania state and local officials can make, ranging from financial incentives and commitments from governments and business to convert their equipment to restricting the sale and use of the most polluting fossil fuel equipment.

“We have a chance to whack away at our air pollution problem by switching to cleaner, quieter, readily available electric lawn equipment,” said Kerns. “We shouldn’t accept tons of air pollution and ear-splitting noise as an inevitable byproduct of taking care of our gardens and lawns. We have better ways. It’s time to transition away from dirty gas-powered lawn equipment as quickly as possible.”

READ:  Pennsylvania DEP Fines Equitrans Over $1 Million for Environmental Violations

The full report and interactive dashboard are available on our website.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.