Healthy Air

Portland City Council to consider ban on gas-powered leaf blowers

The City of Portland is developing a city ordinance to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers to reduce air pollution in our communities.

Clean air

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Staff at the city of Portland are developing an ordinance that would eventually phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in our communities. There is an open public comment period that ends today, January 31st, giving Portlanders an opportunity to weigh in on this ordinance. The ordinance will then be heard at the Portland City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 6th, 2024.

Environment Oregon & OSPIRG submitted comments on the proposed ordinance. Here’s an excerpt:

The small gasoline powered engines, especially common in handheld landscaping tools like leaf blowers, string trimmers, and lawn mowers, produce an outsized amount of toxic air pollution – and noise – creating air-polluting and climate-warming emissions that negatively impact the health of workers and our communities and the planet as a whole.

According to the Respiratory Health Association, these engines contribute to ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5). Even short-term exposure to these pollutants can cause or contribute to asthma, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and premature death

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which we compiled into a recent report called “Lawn Care Goes Electric,” shows that lawn and garden equipment in Oregon emitted an estimated 374 tons of harmful “fine particulate” air pollution in 2020 – an amount equivalent to the pollution emitted by 4 million typical cars over the course of a year. There are currently 3.2 million passenger vehicles registered in Oregon. 

Lawn equipment, including gas-powered leaf blowers, also emit high levels of carcinogens, such as benzene and butadiene, along with other toxic compounds, including formaldehyde, a known respiratory and skin irritant, and nitrous oxides which can cause lung damage and disease.

They are also harmful to our climate. Nationally, lawn and garden equipment is responsible for more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading cause of climate change.

For all of these reasons, we support policies to transition away from the use of the dirtiest gas-powered lawn equipment, especially gas-powered leaf blowers. We support the proposed “Equitable Gas Leaf Blower Phase-out” under your consideration, but given the overwhelming public health and environmental impact of these machines, we’d like to see a phase out of gas-powered leaf blowers to happen on a faster timeline than the one proposed. Our communities can’t wait.”

If you’d like to submit your own public comment, you must do so by the end of the day on January 31st, 2024. You can submit it here.

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