New report shows a shocking amount of pollution from gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers in Oregon

A new report out today shows that gas-powered lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden equipment generate a large amount of pollution and noise. 

Clean air

staff | TPIN

On a chilly fall Monday morning, Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center and OSPIRG Foundation released a new report, Lawn Care Goes Electric: Why it’s time to switch to a new generation of clean, quiet electric lawn equipment, at an event at Irving Park in Northeast Portland.

According to the report’s analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, lawn and garden equipment in Oregon emitted an estimated 374 tons of harmful “fine particulate” air pollution in 2020 – an amount equivalent to the pollution emitted by 4 million typical cars over the course of a year. There are currently 3.2 million passenger vehicles registered in Oregon.

“It’s absurd that we have been tolerating so much harmful pollution and noise just to cut grass and maintain landscapes,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, state director with Environment Oregon Research & Policy Center. “The good news is, for those who chose to not use a rake or other manual tool, cleaner, quieter electric-powered lawn equipment is capable, affordable and readily available.”

staff | TPIN

At Monday’s event, landscapers from Multnomah Landscape and Pride + Joy Landscapes– two landscaping companies that use only electric lawn & garden equipment– discussed how electric lawn & garden equipment is comparable in quality and performance to gas-powered equipment, is far quieter and produces reduced vibration – making it healthier and safer to use. 

“By allowing fossil fuel consumption to continue, we are choosing to cause harm to the planet and each other,” said Martin Eizik, owner of Multnomah Landscape, a landscaping company based in Portland. “As a small business owner, I’ve invested in cleaner alternatives as one way I can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.” 

“Electric equipment is comparable to gas powered equipment and it’s only getting better,” said Brendon Wright, Maintenance Manager at Pride + Joy Landscapes in Portland. “It’s much more enjoyable and safe to use than gas powered equipment, and our customers love not having loud noise and noxious fumes when we’re working in their yards.” 

Brian Stewart from Electrify Now and Quiet Clean PDX discussed efforts underway to pass policies to limit the use of gas powered lawn and garden equipment locally in Oregon.

“It is time for common sense policy to speed the transition away from highly polluting and dangerously noisy gas powered tools like leaf blowers, lawnmowers and trimmers,” said Brian Stewart, Co-Founder of Electrify Now and Quiet Clean PDX. “Cities across the country are eliminating the use of these toxic tools and providing incentives for quiet, clean electric tools that are readily available and cost effective. Portland and other cities in Oregon should enact similar policies to make our communities quieter and safer and protect the health of landscape workers.”

Fortunately, electric lawn equipment has evolved into an attractive alternative to highly polluting gas-powered tools.

“We have a chance to cut down our air pollution problem by switching to cleaner, quieter, readily available electric lawn equipment,” said Charlie Fisher, state director of OSPIRG Foundation. “We shouldn’t accept tons of air pollution and ear-splitting noise as an inevitable byproduct of taking care of our gardens and lawns. We have better ways. It’s time to transition away from dirty gas-powered lawn equipment as quickly as possible.” 

The full report is available for download, along with an interactive map with state and county level data for Oregon.


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