The use of gas powered leaf blowers reminds me of second hand smoke. We used to smoke in our homes, restaurants, air planes, hospitals…anywhere. Then we discovered the danger of second hand smoke. It took years to change the laws even as innocent bystanders died of cancer.
I live in a small house with my 86 year old mother on a strip of modest homes in Pocantico Hills, a hamlet within The Town of Mt. Pleasant. This row of homes is surrounded by two churches, a fire house and several larger properties that allow multiple leaf blowers to run simultaneously for long periods of time.
Here are the finer points of Mt. Pleasant’s ecode 360, “Unnecessary Noise”. The police department will not provide you with this information.
- During the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., noise levels within any residential-zoned district shall not exceed 65 db(A)’s or an L10 in excess of 60 db(A)’s.
Leaf blowers run at about 90 decibels. A sound meter on my phone registered noise from two leaf blowers across the street at 79 decibels from my property line.
Recently I had to endure the noise of five industrial strength blowers next door working for three hours. The noise was nothing less than assault. We are often driven from our properties to escape the low frequencies that go through walls and cement. The air had smelled fresh. By the time they left I was eating dust and and toxic emissions. Our “guaranteed right to peaceful enjoyment of our property” is being violated.
Ecode360 also states:
139-19. No person shall cause or permit the creation of any unnecessary noise exceeding 55 db(A)’s on any street, sidewalk or public place adjacent to any school, church, senior citizen center or authorized day-care center while in use or adjacent to any hospital at any time, provided that signs are displayed so as to identify such zone.
We are seniors over 80, infants and young children, a pregnant mom, a boy with asthma, one with autism, a paraplegic, a PTSD sufferer, dogs and wild animals. This community is a microcosm of the larger society. Must we put up signs? There are infants and young children who have to endure the pollution while their parents are working in Manhattan where leaf blowers are illegal.
Below are some statements extracted from research findings on leaf blowers and health:
- Children’s Environmental Health Network –Noise from sources such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers can result in hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, headaches, sleep disturbance, reduced productivity, mental health problems, and reduced quality of life.
- Harvard Medical School – The noise that causes sensorineural hearing loss is usually not one deafening bang but decades’ worth of exposure to the high decibel accessories of daily life: leaf blowers, car horns, traffic, movie theater sounds, and so on.
- Massachusetts Medical Society – Gasoline-powered leaf blowers pose health risks to both workers and the general public.
- Medical Society of the State of New York –Recommends guidelines that would dramatically reduce the toxic emissions and noise level of gas leaf blowers for reasons of health.
- Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, Mount Sinai Hospital, NYC – Leaf blowers create large volumes of airborne particulates, many of which are respirable. Inhalation of these small airborne particles can provoke asthma and other respiratory diseases in children and can increase the severity of chronic lung disease in our elderly. Some of the other potential pollutants from leaf blowers and internal combustion power tools are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and ozone formed from some of these other pollutants. Even lower-level exposures have been associated with respiratory and central nervous system effects.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Being around too much loud noise — like using a leaf blower or going to loud concerts — can cause permanent hearing loss.
If the beautifully maintained Central Park can do without leaf blowers entirely, so can Mt. Pleasant.
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591