Colorado puts unprecedented restrictions on air pollution from lawn equipment

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DENVER – Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted on Friday to reduce air pollution by restricting the use of the highest emitting gas-powered lawn and garden equipment on public property. The commission’s new rule, which takes effect during the summer “ozone season” in 2025, is the first statewide policy of its kind in the United States.

“Given the significant pollution generated by gas-powered lawn equipment and the severe air pollution problem in our region, I’m glad the state is taking action to accelerate the switch to cleaner, quieter electric lawn equipment,” said CoPIRG Foundation Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz. “This vote is the first step toward eliminating this unnecessary source of harmful air pollution.”

A recent report by CoPIRG Foundation found that gas-powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden tools generate an astonishing amount of pollution and noise. In 2020, these machines spewed an estimated 671 tons of harmful “fine particulate” air pollution in Colorado. That equals the pollution produced by more than 7 million cars in a year. 

“It doesn’t make sense to allow air pollution that damages our health when we cut grass or blow leaves – especially when cleaner, quieter electric options are readily available,said Schatz.

This equipment has contributed thousands of tons of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to Colorado’s air in a single year. Emissions cuts from the lawn care sector are an important way to reduce ozone pollution at a time when the Denver Metro/North Front Range area has been in violation of Clean Air Act standards for ozone for more than a decade.

“Soon, Coloradans won’t have to worry about fumes or obnoxious noise from gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers when they head to public parks,” said Schatz. “This decision will help cut air pollution and allow more people to enjoy a lovely summer day.”

The pollution generated by gas lawn equipment imposes a significant health cost. It has been linked to health problems including asthma attacks, reproductive ailments, mental health challenges, cancer and even premature deaths. 

The Regulation 29 proposal that the AQCC adopted Friday would:

  • Prohibit the use of gas-powered push lawn mowers and handheld landscaping tools under 25 horsepower on state property during the summertime ozone season (June 1-August 31) starting in 2025;
  • Prohibit the use of gas-powered push lawn mowers and handheld landscaping tools under 10 horsepower on other public property within the Denver Metro/North Front Range ozone nonattainment area (the area roughly from Douglas County up through Larimer and Weld Counties) during the summertime ozone season starting in 2025; and
  • Direct the Air Pollution Control Division to track the market share of electric lawn and garden equipment and request a rulemaking hearing to be completed by the end of 2025 to consider gas-powered lawn equipment use restrictions for commercial operators, and possibly prohibiting sales of new gas-powered equipment. 

For more information on this issue, visit our recent report. For Coloradans who want to take advantage of a new, statewide 30% discount on electric lawn and garden equipment and other financial incentives, visit our tip guide.