The leaf blower has been around invented 1947. The origin of the leaf blower initiated as a backpack fogger apparatus, invented by Japanese-based Kyoritsu Noki Company. The company changed their name to Echo in 1978. The original blower was designed to spread fertilize and pesticides over grain fields and fruit trees. A container was mounted above a centrifugal fan as the source for the chemicals that would be disbursed evenly over the area. Versions of this product are still in use today. Echo’s name for this device was and is the “Duster-Mister”. It was discovered, back in the 1970’s that this blower, less the chemical container, would make an excellent leaf blower, which of course is where it got its name.
Leaf Blower Use:
Today, there are many uses for the leaf blower, including the cleaning of driveways and sidewalks after cutting the grass and the removal of debris from parking lots, sports arenas, city parks and construction sites. It quickly became an important cleanup tool, saving time over alternative methods. It turns out that this product does a far better job than a rake or broom and at far less cost due to the speed in which it can clean up an area. The Department of Public Services for the City of Coronado, CA conducted a test comparing brooms to leaf blowers. To clean the perimeter sidewalk of a downtown park with a broom took 80 minutes where it took only 6 minutes to clean with a blower. The leaf blower has become indispensable. Clearly, it is not just a leaf blower. It is an all purpose outdoor clean up tool.
Note: A leaf blower is NOT intended for use on gravel driveways, dry dirt or other potentially dusty surfaces.
How serious is the leaf blower problem?
In recent years, there have been several cities around the United States that have taken steps to regulate blowers. In 1998, the city of Los Angeles passed an ordinance that prohibits the use of leaf blowers within 500 feet of a personal residence. There have been other attempts at banning in both large and small cities, but so far, most have failed. They either didn’t get passed by the city council or after passing, could not be enforced. Still banning can be a serious problem depending on the penalty associated with violating the ban and the persistence of the local police force.
Powerful entities have looked into banning blowers. In 2000, the California State Legislature instructed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to conduct a study on the environmental impact of cordless leaf blowers based on information and test results available at the time. The report from this study made a clear statement that there are many individuals, organizations and municipalities deeply bothered by the leaf blower.
However, factual information was not available at the time to conclude one way or the other if leaf blowers are detrimental to the environment or hazardous to anyone’s health. Since then, there have been reputable studies that prove leaf blowers to be benign.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District commissioned Dennis Fitz of the University of California at Riverside to study the potential for leaf blowers to generate dust. His published results show that the amount generated is actually insignificant. Comparing data compiled in the San Joaquin Valley, daily driving of automobiles generates 100 times more dust than leaf blowers. Interestingly enough, Mr. Fitz also proved that even brooms generate more dust than blowers because they dislodge caked dirt that a leaf blower leaves behind.
The Water and Power Department in Los Angeles spent millions on the design of an alternative battery powered leaf blower. They thought this would be the answer to leaf blower noise. It never made it to production. Performance was inadequate and couldn’t compare with gas powered leaf blower. But this is still disturbing because the next attempt, should there be one, could be successful and better performing gas powered leaf blowers could be displaced
There are several non-governmental organizations springing up around the country that are strongly opposed to the existence of the leaf blower. Their greatest influence has been in California, but because these groups use the Internet and influence columnists, there is talk about banning blowers all over the country. Even in foreign countries such as in Germany and Australia, leaf blowers have become a notable issue.
These activities should serve as a wake-up call. If ignored, bans could impact the future existence of the leaf blower and the livelihood of the landscape contractor. The the most popular brands of leaf blowers are ECHO, Makita, Toro, Husqvarna, Dewalt, Milwaukee, EGO, Greenworks, Oregon, Hitachi, Black and Decker, Poulan Pro, WORX, Troy Bilt and Pro Series.
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