Do leaf blowers cause pollution?

Man using a leaf blower in a park with yellow leaves all around.
(Image credit: Getty)

We ask a gardening expert, do leaf blowers cause pollution and how to protect against fumes when using one. 

As you get ready to spruce up your lawn, there’s a good chance that you’ll be considering using the best leaf blowers in terms of power, efficiency, and price: the gas-powered leaf blower. Running using internal combustion engines, gas-powered leaf blowers are popular for their power but are also noisy and have distinctive fumes that can lead people to question, do leaf blowers cause pollution. The answer is a clear yes.

We explain: how do leaf blowers cause pollution?

Just like a car, the process of using gasoline in an internal combustion engine causes polluting fumes as a bi-product. However, unlike the 4-stroke engines commonly found in cars, leaf blowers tend to use 2-stroke engines. 

While a 2-stroke engine converts fuel into power more quickly, it is also dirtier and far more polluting. A 2-stroke engine runs on a mixture of gasoline and oil and as much as one third of it isn’t combusted when it passes through the engine and is simply released into the air around as an aerosol of fuel. 

So, do leaf blowers cause pollution? They certainly do, and the pollution from gas engines is the key reason why. In fact, it’s such a big problem that selling gas-powered lawn equipment is set to become illegal in the state of California. 

How to protect against leaf blower pollution 

Now that we’ve answered the big question, “do leaf blowers cause pollution?”, you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself against it. 

1. Consider alternatives

Traditionally, gas-powered leaf blowers have been picked over electric ones because of their superior power. These days however electric leaf blowers come close to their gas powered counterparts for power are much lighter, and crucially are not an air pollutant in the same way.

2. Don’t get rid of leaves 

There is a growing environmental call for people not to get rid of fallen leaves at the end of the Summer season. Environmentalists say that leaving fallen leaves and not mowing your lawn could provide a vital habitat to wildlife during the colder months.

3. Use personal protection clothing 

Take the advice of a lawn care professional who uses leaf blowers regularly. Timothy London advises wearing safety glasses to protect your eyes against pollution and a mask to prevent breathing in the leaf blower fumes or any dust or particulates thrown up by the force of the leaf blower. 

Box out: Timothy London, owner of London Lawn Care Services gives us his advice on staying as safe as possible if you’re using a gas-powered leaf blower:

“For operating a gas powered leaf blower I would definitely recommend using a mask. I also would recommend using safety glasses. When leaf blowing, a lot of dust is blowing around and it’s not safe breathing all of this in and getting it in your eyes.”

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Tanisha Fletcher

Tanisha started her career in commercial retail buying for one of Amazon UK’s Top 10 revenue grossing online homeware retailers. Years spent obsessing over homeware products made it an easy career switch to writing about them. Her freelance career has seen her craft customer-focused web content for brands big and small, as well as writing articles in the health, lifestyle, home and retail sectors.

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