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"Noise emitted from gas blowers is part of the cumulative environmental noise in which we all live. ... Increasing concerns about environmental noise and noise levels have earned it the label, 'The New Secondhand Smoke'." 

- Jamie Banks, PhD, MS



  • Chronic noise: Leaf blowers produce harmful noise that can become chronic for residents, according to peer-reviewed journal articles published by the Harvard Medical School and University of Michigan School of Public Health. The World Health Organization recently lowered environmental noise standards for healthy communities to 53 decibels, and leaf blower noise far exceeds those standards. 


  • Dangerous dust and exhaust: Toxic exhaust and particulate matter from leaf blowers is known to be dangerous to our health, according to the American Lung Association and American Heart Association.


  • Detrimental to developing children trying to learn. Studies show sustained exposure to excessive noise has detrimental effects on children’s health and development, and young children are especially vulnerable because they are developing. Exposure to excessive leaf blower noise increases risk of harmful health effects, according to numerous journal articles and Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN). 


  • Most professional landscapers use loud leaf blowers that far exceed safe standards. Quieter blowers are now available and affordable.


  • Over 170 cities in more than 36 states across the country have enacted ordinances establishing rules for the use of leaf blowers to protect the public health of residents.




Academic institutions, federal agencies, independent agencies and outside experts have provided objective research to quantify the adverse health effects associated with gas-powered leaf blowers. Please take the time to become informed and encourage a safer and healthier environment.  


Main takeaways


  • Chronic environmental noise has several highly prevalent health effects: sleep disruption and heart disease, stress, annoyance, and noise-induced hearing loss.


  • The effects of chronic environmental noise are insidious and result from increased psychosocial stress and annoyance. Environmental noise is not only a health risk to people who report being annoyed – children in noisy environments experience decreased learning, lower reading comprehension, and concentration deficits. This causes poor school performance, which leads to stress and misbehavior. 


  • At least 145.5 million people are at potential risk of hypertension due to noise. 


  • Uncontrollable noise can significantly impair cognitive performance, according to overwhelming evidence from laboratory experiments. Noise can induce learned helplessness, increase arousal, alter the choice of task strategy, and decrease attention to task.


  • Gas-powered leaf blower noise has a low frequency dominance, which travels over long distances, penetrates construction walls, and negatively impacts health, productivity, and/or quality of life. Vulnerable populations include workers, children, the elderly, the sick, those who work from home, and those who work overnight shifts.


  • Particulate matter is easily inhaled, causing or exacerbating lower respiratory tract diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, and emphysema. Controlled human exposure studies demonstrate particulate matter-induced changes in cardiovascular function among healthy and health-compromised adults. Epidemiologic studies reveal consistent positive associations between short term particulate matter exposure and emergency department visits and hospital admissions for heart disease and respiratory infections. 


  • There is a “robust” relationship between fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and lung cancer risk


  • There are three biological pathways linking particulate matter to cardiovascular diseases: (1) pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammation when proinflammatory mediators are released, (2) reflex arc neural pathways caused by imbalance and heart rhythm increases, and (3) translocation of particulate matter into blood.


Noise Pollution 


Hammer M.S., Swinburn T.K., Neitzel R.L., “Environmental Noise Pollution in the United States: Developing an Effective Public Health Response”, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 2, February 2014, pp. 115-19, (


 “U-M researchers highlight hazards of noise pollution”, by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, The University Record, December 5, 2013 (


Passchier-Vermeer W., Passchier W.F., “Noise Exposure and Public Health”, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 108, 2000, pp. 123-31, (


Walker E, Banks J, “Characteristics of Lawn and Garden Equipment Sound: A Community Pilot Study”, J Environ Toxicol Stu, October 31, 2017, (


Testimony of Chris Pollock, PE, Arup, before the D.C. City Council Committee, July 2, 2018 (


“Too Loud! For Too Long!, Loud noises damage hearing”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Fact Sheet, (


“Noise and Its Effects on Children, Information for Parents, Teachers and Childcare Providers”, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-410-F-09-003, November 2009 (


World Health Organization Environmental Noise Guidelines, October 10, 2018, p. 30 (


Erica Walker ScD, MS, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Jamie Banks, PhD, MS, Quiet Communities,Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Sound and Impact on Children”, at 2017 Children’s Environmental Health Network Research Conference, Arlington, VA, April 5-7, 2017  


Air Pollution 


Hamra, GB, Guha N, et al., “Outdoor Particulate Matter Exposure and Lung Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 122, No. 9, , September 2014, at pp. 906-11, (


Brook RD, MD, Rajagopalan S, MD, et al., “Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease”, Circulation, American Heart Association Scientific Statement, June 1, 2010, pp. 2331-78, (


Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for Particulate Matter,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, December 2009, at pp. 2-1 to 2-26 (, retrieved 11/18/2018).


“Particle Pollution (PM)”, AirNow, January 31, 2017 (


“FACTS, Danger in the Air, Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease”, American Heart Association, 2014 (  


Jamie Banks, PhD, MS and Lucy Weinstein, MD, MPH, “Landscape Maintenance Equipment Emissions and Children’s Health", at Children’s Environmental Health Network Research Conference, Arlington, VA, April 5-7, 2017


“Emissions Test: Car vs. Truck vs. Leaf Blower”, Edmonds, December 5, 2011 ( and (   

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