How do you feel about bans on power blowers?
Robin Pendergrast, marketing/public relations consultant, Echo Inc.
The noise issue with power blowers has been a conundrum since its appearance more than a decade ago. At the time, a few cities, including Los Angeles, challenged manufacturers to create technology more pleasing to the ear.
And manufacturers responded, coming up with quieter and cleaner blowers. Echo has taken a pro-active stand to encourage and educate end-users on proper blower use.
Over the years, education and new technology combined with self-regulation has proven to be effective at controlling blower noise and misuse. Unfortunately, some cities have ignored technological advances and self-regulation in favor of restricting these pragmatic and powerful cleaning tools.
Other types of equipment, including gasoline-powered equipment, make more noise than blowers. While cities like Los Angeles can't seem to live with power blowers, others have gone out of their way to ensure that power blowers and their operators co-exist peacefully with residents.
Ironically, the city that more than a decade ago challenged manufacturers to come up with cleaner and quieter blowers is now trying to ban their use. No, the manufacturers haven't failed. In fact, blowers are quieter and cleaner than ever. They meet stringent regulations, and Echo--for one--has developed a blower at least twice as quiet as its predecessors.
It's not a question of technology, self-regulation and education--the industry has excelled in these areas. It's a question of a few vocal people who don't like blowers because they can't see their value.
These people should be asked to ride a horse and buggy and read by candlelight. They can't turn back time, but they can make life miserable for an industry that bends over backward to ensure its products are safe, quiet and used properly.
Marvin Braude, councilman, City of Los Angeles
The unregulated use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers is incompatible with enjoying our neighborhoods. In our homes, we deserve peace and quiet, not daily assaults by loud, polluting machines.
Citizens complain about gardeners blowing debris onto neighbors' property or into the street, or using leaf blowers for the smallest cleanup jobs.
Air-quality experts say gasoline leaf blowers produce as much pollution hourly as a car traveling 100 miles. In Los Angeles, leaf blowers spew 1,800 tons of pollutants into the air annually. Users' health is threatened by blowers' noise. California OSHA recommends only 20 minutes daily exposure before hearing damage occurs. Most gardeners use blowers far more.
Leaf blowers are incompatible with the new workplace. One-fourth of employed Americans work at home. This includes home-based businesses, whose operators cannot succeed without the quiet needed to think, have phone conversations and work productively.
Our new Los Angeles law takes effect July 1. It allows electric blowers. This compromise recognizes that they produce less objectionable noise than gasoline blowers and no emissions. Gardeners who fought our ordinance predicted their financial ruin if the law passed. Yet, not even their professional association produced any instances of alleged hardship from the several California cities already banning leaf blowers.
Just because a labor-saving device is widely used, it is not necessarily good for society. The easing of gardeners' work, useful as that is to them, is not sufficient reason to subject urban residents to the weekly assault of leaf blowers.
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