Ban Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers During COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Advisory in Massachusetts

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     Our lives have changed with COVID-19 coming to our community in March. The virus has spread across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – and we have lost over 1,000 lives to the coronavirus in the last four weeks. An average of 35 deaths a day. We can all do our part to stop the spread of this disease. Changing our priorities in how we maintain our homes and gardens without the use of leaf blowers will make a difference. The continued use of gas-powered leaf blowers in our communities exasperate the impact that this pandemic has on our health – gas powered leaf blowers should be banned until life can return to normal.

     There is not direct evidence linking spread of COVID-19 virus to gas powered leaf blowers however many recent studies show reason for concern. A study done on Martha's Vineyard shows an increased risk for tularemia ( life threatening bacterial infection) especially high in workers using leaf blowers. In regards to viruses, there are many studies correlating the relationship between fine particulate matter and the spread of a virus. Researchers in Italy have published work specifically concluding "an increase rate of COVID-19 contagion cases  ....linked to the conditions of atmospheric particulate pollution. Where as, another study out of Harvard School of Public Health, reported a small increase in fine particulate pollution associated with a 15% increase risk of COVID-19 death.                                               

     Gas powered leaf blowers cause particulate matter to be airborne, where these particles can linger for hours, even days – and can travel as far a mile! This poses increased health risk for people who are immunocompromised and elderly, not to mention those with asthma and allergies. Landscapers’ continued use of gas-powered leaf blowers is a public health hazard that can be mitigated.

     In times of isolation and social distancing, mental health is increasingly important to our wellbeing. In addition to being vectors for disease, gas-powered leaf blowers are extremely loud. Having one blowing in your neighborhood is the equivalent to living next to the highway. These noise levels impact our sense of community, frustrating us with the inability to control the noise, isolating us from ourselves. At a time when community is more important than ever, we need to do everything we can to help each other in this crisis.

     Last month, Governor Baker declared landscaping an essential service for our cities and towns. While it is true that landscaping our communities is important, the continued use of gas-powered leaf blowers makes the well-intended implementation of social distancing obsolete, as it blows potentially virus carrying particles into the air. We can continue to landscape with rakes and brooms while keeping our communities safe and quiet.

     Sign this petition to ask the Governor to ban gas-powered leaf blowers until there is an available and effective vaccine for COVID 19. For more information on this topic and access to research on the effects of pollution and gas-powered leaf blowers, please go to quietcommunities.org.



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