If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you find yourself a copy of Ted Steinberg’s American Green. I got my copy on Amazon for .15 cents! It gives such a nice in-depth analysis of the opportunity costs associated with America’s quest for a perfect lawn. His chapters on leaf blower noise have served as an inspiration for our now SUBMITTED publication!
Myself, along with Jamie Banks of Quiet Communities, spent last spring carefully measuring the propagation of leaf blower noise in a community near Boston. Unsurprisingly, we found that high levels of such noise persist as great distances, suggesting harmful noise level exposures for both the operator of these machines and those who reside in the communities in which they operate. As a point of reference, at the point of operation, we experienced decibel levels over 90 dB! To put this into perspective, 90 dB is LOUDER than a motorcycle 30 feet away.
Our findings mirror what communities have been complaining about for quite some time. A quick internet search will deliver to you a large (and growing) community of residents at their wit’s end in regards leaf-blower noise. During the spring and fall months, I don’t even have to set my alarm clock. Without fail, every morning, at around 7am, I am treated to a delightful symphony of leaf blowers.
Crude analysis of The Greater Boston Neighborhood Noise Survey show that of those who expressed either annoyance or stress due to leaf blower noise, exactly half were moderately to severely annoyed and stressed by it.
The amazing thing is that if there is anything that we can actually control in our oppressive environmental soundtrack, leaf blower noise is one of them. However, cities and towns are so slow to adopt these technologies. Quiet technology has made great advancements in the field and there are several quieter (and equally effective) lawn and garden instruments on the market for use.