Healthy Air

Gas-powered lawn equipement causes shocking amount of pollution in Maryland

Electric lawn/garden alternatives are cleaner, quieter, capable, affordable, readily available

Clean air

Eight different models of electric lawn mowers sitting on a green lawn.
Mark Wolfe via BobVila.com  | Used by permission
Electric Lawn mower Models

A new report by Maryland PIRG Foundation shows that gas-powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden equipment generate a large amount of pollution and noise. 

Lawn and garden equipment in Maryland emitted an estimated 597 tons of harmful “fine particulate” air pollution in 2020 – an amount equivalent to the pollution emitted by 6.4 million typical cars over the course of a year.

Montgomery County ranked 16th amongst U.S. counties for “fine particulate” air pollution in 2020, with Prince George’s, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel Counties all ranking in the top 100 as well.

GIF Leaf Blower pollution

Using a gas leaf blower for one hour produces as much pollution as 15 cars driving in your neighborhood for an hour.

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 benzene, 1,3-butadiene and formaldehyde. Exposure to these pollutants in our air has been 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.

Earlier this month, Montgomery County established a new law to phase out the sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums. 

Here’s a snapshot of pollution from gas powered lawn and garden equipment in Maryland as a whole in 2020:

  • 1,839 tons of nitrogen oxides. This is equivalent to the nitrogen oxide emissions from 822,556  cars over the course of a year.
  • 722,471 tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from 159,045 cars over the course of a year.
  • 597 tons of fine particulates (PM 2.5).  This is equivalent to the fine particulate (PM 2.5) emissions from 6,404,064 cars over the course of a year.

The report recommends that local and state governments use electric equipment on public property and provide financial incentives to encourage the widespread adoption of electric lawn equipment. It further suggests that cities and states consider restrictions on the sale and use of the most-polluting fossil fuel-powered equipment.

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