It’s been pouring rain all day and still is raining, though not quite so hard – but all the same there’s someone with a snarling backpack blower out there, the one who generally takes an hour or more to shift every leaf on the large property across the alley. I hate the sound noise of blowers even more than I hate the noise of mowers, weedeaters, hedgeclippers, edgers, and all the rest of the box of tricks.

I’m not the only one who hates the damn things.

It’s almost impossible to enjoy a quiet moment in many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods without hearing leaf blowers. The engines alternate between bone-shaking rumbles and high-pitched whines that assault our ears.

It’s a snarl rather than a whine – at any rate it’s a peculiarly grating, distracting, irritating, blood pressure-raising noise. All for the sake of moving every last blade of grass and speck of dust, as if that were important, or worth doing at all.

But these machines are far worse than an annoyance. Gas-powered leaf blowers are dangerous to our neighbors, the workers who use them, and the planet. City Council and the Mayor’s Office must ban them.

Other cities and states have already recognized and addressed this problem. Starting in 2024, California will ban the sale of new gas leaf blowers as an effort to stem their negative impact on the environment and human health. The volunteer-led nonprofit organization Quiet Clean D.C. led a successful campaign to ban gas leaf blowers in Washington, which took effect on Jan. 1. Seattle’s City Council voted to phase out gas-powered blowers for city departments and contractors by 2025, and for businesses and residents by 2027.

2027. Groan. Four more years.

The danger of gas leaf blowers has been well documented. According to James Fallows, a former writer for the Atlantic who was born in Philadelphia, gas leaf blowers are “vastly the dirtiest and most polluting kind of machinery still in legal use.” He adds that the engine is powered by “a slosh of oil and gas that spews up to one-third of its fuels as unburned aerosols into the environment.”

All to create a blast of air to move leaves around. It’s too stupid.

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