Opinion: Gas-powered leaf blowers are a public health threat. Here’s what we can do about it.

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Ruth Sandven

Emissions and noise levels from gas leaf blowers present a threat to public health. Equipment operators are overexposed to toxic fumes, fine particulates that irritate respiratory systems and unsafe noise levels at close range. Vibrations from gas-powered leaf blowers are known to cause nerve damage in the hands and arms of operators. Children, older people and others with hearing disorders or neurological conditions like autism are especially vulnerable. The health hazards posed by gas-powered leaf blowers are an environmental justice issue for the equipment operators and our most vulnerable populations.

According to a new report from Environment California Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and CALPIRG Education Fund, air pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks, cancer and other adverse health impacts, and causes 34,000 deaths every year in California. Poor air quality complicates any existing health conditions. Per the CALPIRG report, in 2020, the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad metro areas suffered the second highest number of days with elevated ozone and particulate pollution in California.