The wonderful sounds of spring, summer! Although we close our windows to block the noise and gas emissions from the equipment’s exhaust, we can still hear them all around us. But it is not the annoyance that should concern us — there is a real danger to our health from this constant noise and gas emissions.

There is a movement in the U.S. to reduce noise and pollution caused lawn equipment.  This movement doesn’t ask you to go back to the rake and push mower, instead it proves scientifically that unless we find a way to control the noise and emissions of this gas powered equipment, and transition to battery or electric equipment, we will have a serious problem in this country.

Why?  First, studies show that our hearing, as well as the landscapers’ hearing is affected by the constant low frequency decibel level of gas-powered lawn equipment.  This equipment emits the same ozone-forming and cancer-causing compounds that a diesel truck idling in your neighborhood.

Ridgewood doesn’t have a noise ordinance. The only ordinance that applies is the one-barring power tools, landscaping and yard equipment to be used certain hours and days (and anyone driving around on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon can see that most homeowners/landscapers don’t know about or ignore the ordinance).  But Ridgewood should join the towns, counties, and some States in regulating this dangerous machinery  A statewide hub started by Westfield residents, called Advocates for Transforming Landscaping in New Jersey (ATL-NJ), and now includes residents and officials from dozens of towns, including Ridgewood and Glen Rock.

ATL-NJ meets by ZOOM and shares the resources from local success stories as well as a national initiative called Quiet Communities (, which has produced studies that unequivocally prove that the low power frequency from most gas powered equipment operates at as much as 50% higher than any recommended decibel level.  The noise travels further away from the homeowner, sometimes to hundreds of yards.  This is in addition the serious pollution caused by gas-powered lawn equipment, which emits clouds of oil/gas mixture. This is serious.

Two-stroke engines are the most common feature on gas-powered mowers. This burns both oil and gasoline, and produces an aerosol which can not only form ozone but also contain dangerous compounds that could cause serious health problems. Despite workers wearing headphones or mouth guards, chemicals and noises can still penetrate.

People who work remotely or stay home with their kids for longer periods of times have noticed that their neighbor or I have landscapers who use blowers for extended periods of their time. We have taken steps in order to eliminate leaf Grass from our driveways.  Even though we close our windows, many houses can still hear the sound.  Recent research has shown that insects who burrow under grass are disturbed when there is constant blowing on them.  They are literally blown away, causing problems for our soil.

There are solutions.  For the past decade companies have manufactured quieter, healthier and greener alternatives. The power of electric lawn mowers, or battery-powered ones, was not enough.  But now there are many models on the market.  This is the future.

Recent literature that targets industry professionals highlights the shift in commercial landscaping from gas to electric.  It discusses the rapid development of battery equipment, performance gains, differences between operating costs, ease-of-use, and strategies for converting to electric equipment.  Manufacturers are recognizing the signs and making the switch to electric equipment. The battery packs are stronger and more powerful.  Many states and cities across the US have banned gas powered equipment.

It is amazing how lawn equipment can be polluting while cars, planes, or other sources of power are less polluting.  There are ways to improve things.

Let’s learn more about this solution to the problem of gas powered lawn equipment.  We love our lawns. There is a way to keep our town looking great and protect our ears and lungs.

Ellie Gruber is chair of the League of Women Voters of Ridgewood Climate Committee and a member of Green Ridgewood.

NJ Leaf blower ban necessary

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