Frequently Asked Questions
1.Why are we proposing to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers?
2. What's the main problem with GPLBs?
3. Are there alternatives?
4. Does the noise from GPLBs impact health?
5. How are workers affected by the noise?
6. Can't workers wear hearing protectors?
7. How does GPLB noise compare with noise from electric leaf blowers?
8. Is the noise from multiple blowers much worse?
The noise from multiple blowers is compounded exponentially. In the picture to the left, the electric blowers are in green, the gas-powered ones in red. The electric blowers are at least ten decibels quieter than the gas powered blowers. The picture also shows how the noise is compounded. Notice that it takes four electric blowers to equal the noise of one gas blower.
Source: ANSI B175.2-2012; ANSI: American National Standards Institute; dBA: A-weighted decibels
9.What about the pollution from GPLBs?
Gas-powered leaf blowers emit toxic particulates and other pollutants. Gas blowers' dirty, two-stroke engines burn oil mixed with gas. This fuel produces toxic particulates and volatile organic compounds such as carcinogenic benzene. These are inhaled by equipment operators, residents, and passers-by. Even short-term exposure can be harmful. Workers, children, seniors, and people with chronic illness are at greatest risk. Operating a single GPLB for just one hour emits as much smog-forming pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 1,100 miles, roughly the distance from Boston to Atlanta.
10. What impact do GPLBs have on the environment & climate?
11. Are any landscapers in our community using electric equipment?
12. Do electric leaf blowers cost more for landscapers?
13. How expensive are consumer-grade electric leaf blowers?
14. Will the transition to electric blowers increase prices for removing leaves?
15. How does changing landscaping practices help?
16. Can electric leaf-blower batteries be recycled?
Yes. Most electric leaf blowers use lithium-ion batteries, or LIBs. LIBs are also widely used in electric vehicles, which has helped create rapidly increasing demand for, as well as investment in, LIB recycling. The global market for LIB recycling is projected to grow by 19.4% annually during the next few years and to reach $10.7 billion by 2026. The fast growth is supported by government investments and regulations aimed at ramping up LIB recycling to address environmental concerns, alleviate supply-chain problems, and conserve national supplies of high-value materials. In time this trend should offset much of the environmental costs of lithium mining, most notably depletion of water resources and water pollution. Chile and Australia lead the world in lithium reserves.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy launched the ReCell Center to carry out R&D on LIB recycling. Its goal is to help make LIB recycling profitable, as well as to enable the U.S. to become self-sufficient in battery resources it lacks, such as cobalt, which can be recovered from LIBs along with lithium and other materials.
One of America's leaders in LIB recycling happens to be nearby: Ascend Elements, based in Westborough, Mass. The company has developed an innovative method to recycle LIBs that yields key components for new batteries that were recently shown to perform “as good as—or even better than—the commercial material that we’ve been importing,” according to Linda Gaines, the ReCell Center’s chief scientist. Ascend raised $90 million last year and recently opened North America’s largest LIB recycling center in Georgia. The company plans to further expand its LIB recycling and battery materials manufacturing operations in 2022 and 2023.