Suffolk Close-Up: Bans on Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Advance

The Village of Southampton has become the first municipality on Long Island to
completely ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. The new law is a model in part for a bill that Huntington Town Councilmen Dave Bennardo and Salvatore Ferro plan to advance with a target a complete ban in Huntington “possibly in 2026,” Ferro said last week.

Ferro, a Commack resident, said that “between health risks and the well-being of the
community and the fact that technology has truly improved in battery options” he and Bennardo, of East Northport, are moving ahead.

In the Village of Southampton, the process that concluded with a total prohibition this
month on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers began, said its deputy mayor, Gina Arresta, when “I first became a village trustee four years ago” and there was a “push from residents” for a ban.

A task force was put together that she led which consisted of people from “all
sides—contractors, landscapers, residents, members of the village’s Environment Committee. You have to bring people together.”

And the task force “came to a general consensus,” said Arresta.

The Village of Southampton had restrictions on when the devices could be used—as does
the Town of Huntington. There were “pros and cons” raised on the task force regarding a
complete ban, she said last week. There were issues about “getting equipment” and substitutes for the gas-powered machines. Also, “some of the technology” for alternatives “was not there yet.”

So, the plan was for a phase out with a target date for a total ban of 2024.

As of May 16, the total Southampton Village ban was in effect.

The reaction from folks from Southampton Village who have contacted her, said Arresta,
has been “very good…people are very happy.” She’s received comments including “it’s the best thing to do.”

“We applaud the Village of Southampton,” said Bonnie Sager of Huntington, an early
champion on Long Island—and now also nationally—for a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers.

“It’s a wonderful step for the health of people of the village and for the workers who are
most impacted bearing the burden of using this highly polluting and noisy equipment,” said Sager last week. “It will improve the quality of life and reduce air pollution.”

“Gas leaf blowers are by and large the dirtiest and most polluting piece of equipment still
in legal use,” she said. “For landscape workers their noise can be deafening. For neighbors they often are a constant source of annoyance and disruption.”

“Landscape workers are often low wage non-English speaking, hard workers who are
sacrificing future health in order to keep customers’ lawns pristine. They may not have generous health insurance, if any, and most likely have no idea of the health hazards they are exposing themselves to,” said Sager. “Breathing toxic emissions and fine particulate matter for hours a day can cause severe health issues ranging from cancer, heart disease, asthma and COPD.”

Sager is co-founder of Huntington Calm and also a new national group, the Quiet Clean
Alliance. It’s based on “there being strength in numbers,” said Sager, and formed by leaders of Quiet GA from Atlanta, Georgia and QCPDX from Portland, Oregon and herself. Already there are nearly 50 “member organizations” from all over the U.S.
Meanwhile, there “are viable alternatives” to gas-powered leaf blowers, said Sager. The
cost of battery-powered electric leaf blowers “has come down” and the technology improved.

“They produce no emissions, don’t use fossil fuels and emit far less noise,” said Sager.
She added that people “may also consider leaving some leaves and beneficial grass clippings. They help our pollinators and improve soil structure.”

A company specializing in battery-powered leaf blowers is Kress Commercial which on
its website says its equipment is “designed for landscaping companies and municipalities seeking to integrate sustainable practices into their operations.”

“Air and noise pollution hurts everyone,” said Sager, “especially our children, our elderly
and the worker. Cleaner air, less stress and hearing loss from noise combined with safer working conditions is a win for everyone.”

On Long Island, “some villages and towns have restrictions” on the use of gas-powered
leaf blowers, she said. As for other complete bans on use in the U.S., Sager cited the Village of Larchmont in Westchester County; Washington, D.C.; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Montclair and Maplewood, New Jersey. In addition to bans by several municipalities in California on use, the state at the beginning of this year started prohibiting statewide the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers.

The Quiet Clean Alliance declares on its website ( that it is
“a network of independent campaigns across the U.S. working to eliminate gas leaf blowers from our communities due to their considerable health and environmental harms. Our goal is to accelerate the shift away from gas leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscape equipment at local, state, and national levels.”

It says that on a local level, “We work cooperatively to accelerate the shift off gas leaf
blowers…” In states, “We track active bills in state legislatures that support the reduction or elimination of gas-powered landscape equipment. Members jointly support and defend policy efforts…” And on the national level, “We advocate for action by Congress and federal agencies to eliminate gas leaf blowers and other gas-powered landscape equipment and to restore the Federal Noise Control Office” (which was eliminated during the Reagan administration).

Town Reminds Residents About Leaf Blower Rules

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