DC Testimony is a Community Resource

Aug 3, 2018

Citizen group, Quiet Clean DC, has created a resource for communities looking to restrict the use of gas leaf blowers. The organized effort undertaken to enact legislation is summarized in this article in The Atlantic, by James Fallows.

Washington DC is among a recent group of metropolitan areas attempting to restrict the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. Bill 22-234 (Leaf Blower Regulation Amendment Act of 2017 sponsored by council member, Mary Cheh), proposes to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers in DC by the year, 2021. A hearing on the bill was held on July 2nd.

The bill, initiated by Quiet Clean DC (QCDC), is concerned with the negative impact that loud gas-leaf blower noise on has on the health and well being of workers, the public, and the environment. QCDC is endorsed by the Sierra Club and by 14 of Washington D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, representing well over 40 neighborhoods across the District. It is a member of QC’s Community Action Network.

A substantial body of testimony from citizens, landscape businesses, acoustic experts, industry association representatives, and health experts is available on the QCDC website and is intended as a resource for other communities.

Central to the testimony was an independent scientific study coordinated by Quiet Communities to compare the  acoustic characteristics of sound from popular models of commercial gas-powered blowers and electric battery-powered blowers and evaluate the implications for communities.

In short, experts reported that the sounds from the two types of blowers are indeed different with the sound from the gas blowers having a much greater negative impact on communities due to a strong low frequency component.

Other testimony in support of the bill included the experience of successful businesses using battery powered equipment, scientific evidence on danger of loud noise to humans and animals, and the negative impact of gas blower use on citizens’ quality of life and livelihoods.

Opposed to the bill were industry representatives who claimed that that lawn crews could be “educated” to use their machinery more “considerately,” a claim the industry has been making for at least twenty years and which has failed to make any difference. In fact, the problem has only gotten worse.

Nearly 170 communities in North America have enacted some form of legislation to restrict the use of leaf blowers, particularly gas-powered leaf blowers. Among the latest to successfully enact legislation are Maplewood, NJ; Newton, MA; Palm Beach, FL, Palm Springs, CA; and Beaconsfield and Westmont in the province of Quebec, Canada.

We wish Washington, DC well in its efforts to make DC a cleaner, quieter, and healthier place to live.