Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

Healthy Begins Here

with Healthy Child Healthy World

This blog has been retired.


The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Leaf Blowers Blow a Lot More than Leaves

by Janelle Sorensen

Leaf blowers drive me crazy. And, I know I’m not the only one – the noise alone is enough to test the patience of a saint. I mean, they sound like a giant dentist drill or a mammoth mosquito, how unpleasant can you get? Beyond imaginative associations, the facts about their auditory irritation are no laughing matter. Jane Dale Owen writes for CLEAN Houston about how loud these machines can be:

  • Zero Air Pollution Los Angeles (ZAPLA) says that blower use at one residence impacts eight to fourteen others.
  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the noise induced by leaf blowers at 90 decibels exceeds the threshold of danger at 85 decibels and can seriously impair hearing. Leaf blowers are used mainly in residential areas where many types of residents are exposed to their pollutants and noise. This population includes homemakers, retirees, day sleepers, young toddlers, the ill or disabled, and pets.
  • Those at highest risk are the blower operators – gardeners and yard workers, who regularly omit wearing protective headphones and respiratory gear.
  • According to one manufacturer’s lobbyist, at a distance of fifty feet, the average blower measures 70-75 decibels. But the World Health Organization states that in order to have a healthy environment daytime noise levels should not exceed 55 decibels.
  • Excessive noise pollution is associated with increased blood pressure, headaches, ringing ears, loss of sleep, lower level in students’ ability to learn, and a lower frustration tolerance. Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry stated that “excessive noise exposure during pregnancy can influence embryonic development.”

But they’re more than just a noise nuisance – they can be a real threat to your health.

Most obviously, gas-fueled leaf blowers spew out air pollution – one hour of use creates as much air pollution as a car driven for 100 miles. In addition, consider these disturbing air pollutants – what the leaf blower is blowing around besides leaves.

The particulate matter (PM) swept into the air is composed of dust, fecal matter, (yep, critter poo), pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt which can contain lead and gasoline – among other things. There have even been cases of viral diseases being spread by the use of leaf blowers.

Do you use a leaf blower? Maybe it’s time to buy a good rake instead (contrary to popular belief, it’s just as fast – check out this story about a grandma who proves a rake and broom is as fast as a leaf blower). Raking is also good exercise.

Have a neighbor who refuses to lay off the leaf blower? Share these tips for safe and courteous use of leaf blowers.

Related Topic:

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 4:20 pm

Subscribe & Stay Informed

Parenting and Children's Health

Get the Parenting & Children's Health newsletter and get useful parenting tips and health news you need to keep your little ones happy & healthy.


WebMD Health News