The Wall Street Journal on What's Wrong with Leaf Blowers


In the Wall Street Journal this past week, the writer and teacher Adrienne Bernhard makes a scientific, environmental, cultural, and public health argument against today’s antiquated use of hyper-polluting two-stroke gas-powered leafblowers.


“Children playing outdoors and people who work from home frequently contend with this menace, but landscapers suffer the most. Since many don’t wear masks, they breathe in fumes, dust and spores while enduring hours of high-volume engine noise—another health risk….

“Leaf blowers also pose a severe threat to the living leaves still attached to trees and bushes—collateral damage from blowers aimed at the ground. Air blasts of up to 200 miles an hour can demolish the habitats of bees and other insects and small creatures, which are essential to their ecosystems…. I might ask my students to consider the irony here: A tool meant to beautify our city parks, backyard gardens and highway meridians is actually destroying them.”

Worth reading in full. Congrats to Ms. Bernhard — and to the Journal’s opinion-page editors, in recognizing that this issue should viewed outside a tedious “regulation bad, market good” framework, and on its technological and public-health merits. This essay is one more bit of evidence of the accelerating, accumulating movement in public, press, and local-government sentiment in favor of a shift to dramatically cleaner, quieter battery-powered equipment. (See the “News” section of the QCDC site, and the D.C. City Council testimony archived here.)