Evanston is leading the charge when it comes to reducing air pollution from lawn equipment. Beginning in April of 2023, the City prohibits the use of gasoline and propane powered leaf blowers because of concerns about air pollution, noise pollution, and other environmental impacts. This is a good step toward cleaner air and a healthier climate.
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. In fact, Evanston’s Climate Action & Resilience Plan called for phasing out gas and propane powered leaf blowers as part of its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050.
More action is needed. Our report on the pollution and health risks caused by gasoline lawn equipment found that Cook county ranks second among U.S. counties for fine particulate (PM2.5) emissions from lawn and garden equipment. It also gives specific recommendations to governments about how to institute this transition. Other municipalities should follow Evanston’s lead and create concrete steps to transition from gasoline-powered lawn equipment to cleaner, electric options. Local and state governments should use electric lawn equipment for their landscaping needs and create financial incentives to encourage the purchase of electric lawn equipment in addition to restricting the use of gasoline-powered equipment.