Professional Landscapers and Gardeners Help Clean the Air

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) in California has just completed the states first blower incentive program, meeting its goal of exchanging 1,500 higher-emission, backpack leaf blowers used by professional landscapers with the new STIHL 4-MIX BR 500 model. Seven exchange events were held in February and March in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The AQMD estimates that by scrapping 1,500 old blowers and replacing them with lower-emission blowers, the program will reduce at least 14 tons per year of smog-forming emissions. In addition, leaf blowers have been a frequent source of controversy due to their sound and tendency to create suspension of dust in the air.

I worked for three years on legislation in California to help prevent the ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers. I am thrilled that the AQMD initiated this program that benefits our communities and the lawn care companies who care for them, said Barbara Alvarez of Golden State Landscaping, Inc. and the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) board of directors. Its great to have the AQMD, STIHL, and the end user all on the same page.

At each exchange event, STIHL representatives trained gardeners and landscapers in the proper use of the blowers to minimize noise and suspension of dustand distributed brochures and DVDs for proper use training.

Professionals could trade in up to ten old, working backpack blowers and pay $200 per STIHL BR 500 backpack blowers, valued at $460 suggested retail each. The program was funded by $225,000 from AQMDs Air Quality Investment Program, which is financed by Southland companies that pay a fee in lieu of offering rideshare incentives as required by AQMDs Rule 2202. According to the AQMD, the leaf blower exchange program will reduce more emissions than would be achieved by an employer rideshare program. AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

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