Some people are making a decision that will degrade the quality of life in their own neighborhoods. They won't even know it, because they won't be home.
They're arranging for springtime landscaping service, and their gardeners are going to bring in gas-powered leaf blowers to do the same job that rakes and brooms used to do very well. Except that rakes and brooms had no insane noise, no pollution and no aggravation for the seniors, nursing mothers, disabled people and telecommuters who are trapped next door.
The most common gas-powered models now in use on Long Island emit more than 100 decibels at full power. They generate more tailpipe emissions than an automobile, and in a far more concentrated area than a cruising car. Blowers jettison dirt, pesticides, pollen and other debris into the neighborhood, irritating allergies and respiratory problems.
But if the health, environmental and social reasons for not employing gas-powered blowers aren't compelling, then consider the fact that they don't accomplish anything. They just blow things onto your neighbor's property, so that it can be blown back again when their lawn service shows up the next day.
The danger of prolonged exposure to these noise levels -- meaning more than about 20 minutes at a time -- has been documented by federal and state studies. But these blowers are used for hours a day. Professional gardeners and their uninsured employees are the people most hurt by the noise and air pollution.
It's hard to imagine a class of people who have been duped more than some professional landscapers. In addition to being unpaid apologists for leaf blower manufacturers, many act as apologists for toxic pesticide companies despite the harm being done to their own ranks.
With neighborhood-based grassroots opposition springing up in suburbs, equipment manufacturers have begun selling gas-powered blowers that technically generate fewer sound decibels. Unfortunately, even at 65 decibels the unique high-pitched frequency of these blowers is particularly grating.
In scores of municipalities with summertime bans, including four Westchester municipalities and the Village of Great Neck Estates, landscaping prices haven't risen at all. Lawns are green and neighborhoods are peaceful.
This is a controversy which will only intensify, as more and more people work at home or work irregular hours and are exposed to what's happening around their home during the day.
Competition in the landscaping business is so fierce that if only a few customers say that they won't allow gas-powered blowers to be used around their yard, landscapers will get the message quickly.