In response to James Whalen’s opinion in the Sept. 18 Wednesday Journal [‘Acoustical litter’ is a health risk, Viewpoints], I’d like to add that leaf blowers contribute to particle pollution in the air due to their dirty exhaust and simple nature of blowing around debris at up to 200 mph. The ALA (American Lung Association) states that short-term increases in particle pollution have been linked to death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes, including strokes; increased mortality in infants and young children; increased numbers of heart attacks, especially among the elderly or those with heart conditions; inflammation of lung tissue in young, healthy adults; increased emergency room visits for patients suffering from acute respiratory ailments; increased hospitalization for asthma among children; and increased severity of asthma attacks in children.
So, as our eco-minded Oak Park community continues to do all the wonderful things like set out rain barrels to recycle water, re-use shopping bags, drive efficient vehicles, and grow native plants in our yards to attract butterflies, we should also pay closer attention to the daily assault of fossil-fuel-burning, outdated combustion engine-type leaf blowers.
If it costs a little more per month to ask our landscaping professionals to find alternative ways to clean up, we should be willing to pay it, for the sake of everyone’s health. These types of engines have been banned in some waterways because of the pollution they cause to aquatic life. But every day for roughly nine months out of the year in this region, we are still tolerating these “aural monstrosities” as Mr. Whalen describes them, on our own front lawns.
The village of Oak Park has a noise ordinance that pertains to leaf blowers, but because of an omission pertaining to specific noise levels, the ordinance has little value.
As Mr. Whalen points out, other communities have taken their residents’ health and noise concerns seriously, by completely banning gas leaf blowers. Surely there is something that our village officials can do to update its policies regarding these machines, but in the meantime we can all make better choices when it comes to lawn care and our health.
Our village asks us to join the international movement to eliminate single-use plastics. Let’s take that same mindset and use alternative ways to maintain the yards our kids play on.