The health threat posed by leaf blowers
“Five years after starting his first job with a landscaping crew in the suburbs of Seattle, Fredi Dubon decided he had enough and called it quits. The work days were long, sometimes 12 hours, but a bigger problem was having to inhale exhaust from his gas-powered leaf blower.
The fumes tended to be harshest in the cool mornings or when he ran his aging machine in the narrow yards of condo buildings. Eventually Dubon, a 28-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, said he was getting migraine headaches “pretty much every day,” a problem that both he and a doctor who examined him attributed to the exhaust belched by the blower.
Yet the headaches that Dubon suffered — until he joined a landscaping company that used electric machines — provide only a whiff of the possible hazards from gasoline-fired lawn and garden equipment.”
“The basic idea is that the smaller the particle, the deeper it can be inhaled into the lungs, and the more potential it has then to cause health problems” such as lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, asthma and other respiratory ailments, said Jo Kay Ghosh, an epidemiologist and the health effects officer for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a pollution control agency covering much of smoggy Southern California. Ultrafine particles also can pass through cell membranes and slip into the bloodstream.”
“In one instance, ultrafine particle levels around an 11-year-old leaf blower were 50 times higher than at a nearby clogged intersection at rush hour. In the same round of tests, with a 2017 model leaf blower, the ultrafine particle level was more than 40 times higher than at the busy intersection.”
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