“We’re really taking the first step, which is we want to hear from the public,” said Bok, who is working with the city’s Environmental Justice, Resilience and Parks Committee to set a date. of hearing. “Our hope would be that after having a solid public conversation, we would be able to file something, like an actual order on this.”
If Boston were to regulate leaf blowers, the city would join more than 100 municipalities across the country, such as Washington, DC and Naples, Florida, that ban or restrict their use. In Massachusetts, several cities have already passed ordinances cracking down on leaf blowers, including Cambridge and Somerville. In October, California became the first state phase out the sale of gas-powered landscaping tools by 2024.
Lawn equipment powered by fossil fuels has huge ecological impacts. In 2018, Americans used nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline to power their mowers and other garden equipment, federal data shows, equivalent to the annual energy consumption of more than 3 million households.
Advocates say that in addition to reducing emissions, banning gas-powered lawn tools would have positive effects on public health. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers and other gardening equipment with two-stroke engines produce toxic compounds such as nitrogen oxide, reactive organic gasesand special casewhose exposure can increase the risk of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and other ailments.
Landscapers who use the equipment are most at risk of adverse health effects, said Richard Reibstein, a Boston University professor of sustainability and environmental policy. Workers who use backpack blowers are also prone to hearing loss and vibration syndrome, a condition caused by prolonged use of vibrating hand tools.
“It’s really a workplace health issue, and the worker is in such a vulnerable position, and they’re often undocumented immigrants,” said Reibstein, who is also a program director for Quiet Communities, a nonprofit organization. Massachusetts-based nonprofit fighting noise and air. Pollution. “It’s brutal and they have no choice.”
Bok said his interest in equipment regulation stemmed from voter complaints. She pointed to an affordable housing complex in her neighborhood – which includes Mission Hill, Longwood, Audubon Circle, Fenway, Kenmore, Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the West End. — where residents on the ground floor prefer to keep their windows open to stay cool. But they live next to an area where leaf blowers are regularly used.
“People who live there will call us and say, ‘Look, I have to choose between being uncomfortable because my windows [are] closed or have my windows open and breathe in those fumes,” Bok said.
Reibstein said communities interested in regulating gas-powered lawn tools should incentivize contractors and consumers with grants, loans or buy-back programs that allow people to trade in their gas-powered devices for electric ones. Lexington State Rep. Michelle Ciccolo, for example, proposed a Invoice this would create a grant program to help cities and towns transition to low-noise, low-emission landscaping equipment.
But even gradual deletions can provoke negative reactions. Lexington Residents voted in november Strictly restrict the use of gas-powered blowers before eventually banning them. Now commercial landscapers in Lexington are trying to get a ban reversed.
But not all landscapers are shy about giving up gasoline-powered equipment. Georges Carrette, owner of EcoQuiet Lawn Care at Concord, said his customers are willing to pay more for quiet, eco-friendly landscaping, and that today’s battery-powered equipment is much more efficient than it used to be. when he started his business eight years ago.
“You have to have a carrot and stick approach. You can’t just go to all these landscapers, who are tough people, and say, “Hey, you have to do this,” he said, to convince landscapers to go from gas to electric. . “It’s important that all of us, as landscapers and citizens, work together as a team on this, and not do something contradictory.”