HEADLINE: More fuss than dust?; Leaf
blowers not big polluters, study says.
BYLINE: Mark Grossi The Fresno Bee
Like the "Pigpen" character in the Peanuts comic
strip, a dust cloud follows folks using a leaf blower. And so do
air quality complaints.
The dust has long been a nuisance to neighbors
and activists who say air authorities should do something about
it. With zero science to argue over, there hasn't been much of a
discussion -- until now.
The first dust study ever done on leaf blowers
portrays them as an insignificant polluter in the San Joaquin
Valley, one of the nation's dirtiest air basins.
The $68,000 study released last month says
there's so little dust stirred up by leaf blowers that
authorities don't need to regulate it. The results are not
surprising, said the main researcher, Dennis Fitz of the
University of California at Riverside.
"Leaf blowers run for only a few minutes a week
per house," he said. "People are interested because it is very
noticeable. The cloud of dust looks bad. But in the big scheme
of things, it's not significant."
By comparison, there's 100 times more dust
caused just by daily driving on paved Valley roads. Construction
sends up 20 times more dust than leaf blowers. - - -
- - - the argument over dust created by leaf
blowers has been vague and never-ending. The San Joaquin Valley
Air Pollution Control District had estimated a wide range of
pollution -- less than 1 ton to 12 tons of dust per day from
After listening to complaints for years, the
district board committed the money for a study. And Fitz went to
work inside a tent.
He and his associates gathered dust, leaves and
other debris from several Valley counties. They spread the
debris on the ground inside a tarp-covered area where they
installed pollution-sensing equipment.
Then they blew, raked and swept on the concrete,
coming up with the amount of dust stirred up by each action.
They repeated their experiment on grass and asphalt.