Obnoxious, unnecessary and hazardous, two-stroke gasoline-powered leaf blowers should be banned as soon as possible. We couldn’t invent a better machine for turning gas and oil into air pollution. Not only loud, disturbing the peace of weekend mornings, they spew as much carbon monoxide as 60 cars burning the same amount of fuel. Worse, much of the combined of oil and gas exits the leaf blower as fine particulate matter — volatile organic compounds — that have adverse health effects (”Greenworks leaf blowers vs. sweepers vs. vacuums,” July 9)
The fumes affect people in the whole neighborhood, but the greatest threat is to the low-wage workers who usually operate these noisy, bone-rattling, toxic machines, making this an issue of environmental justice. Two-stroke engines have their advantages: tremendous power to weight ratio and they are simple. It’s been said, tongue in cheek, that they have no moving parts.
Emergency equipment such as fire department chain saws should be exempt from a two-stroke engine ban, but excellent alternatives exist for other uses. Two-stroke engines were favored in the developing world as cheap, easily-repaired transportation. But when it became impossible to see across the street, New Delhi banned such vehicles and experienced a breath of (relatively) fresh air. The whole of India may be soon rid of such polluters. Maryland should move to ban them, too.
Russell Dickerson, College Park
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