Fairfield Healthcare Professional Offers a View on Gas-Powered Landscaping’s Risks - FairfieldMoms

With spring’s return also comes the return of gas-powered landscaping equipment. The equipment is noisy, to be sure – but perhaps less appreciated are the actual healthcare risks that such equipment also poses. The SFTF invited Fairfield resident and board-certified neurologist Dr. Yaniv Chen to offer his thoughts on those risks.

Imagine this. It’s a beautiful spring morning. You decide to go outside and have your coffee, to enjoy the caress of the first warm sun, the song of the birds and the explosion of colorful blooms. You breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the peace nature brings you. Suddenly, without warning, an ever-increasing buzz of engines, black smog and the smell of a highway overtake your senses. You retreat into your home, and close all the windows, as an army of landscapers with gas-operated leaf blowers enwraps your neighborhood and steals away your peace — and your long-term health.

Yes. Beyond the deafening industrial sounds that deprive us of being able to hear our own thoughts (and our hearing), there is a true and proven health cost to all of us from the use of such equipment around us. Multiple well-structured scientific studies over the last two decades have all had consistent results. There is a strong causal association between breathing pollution particulate matter, and morbidity and mortality over time. The association is particularly strong among children and the elderly – but no one is immune to it.

It is a fact that inefficient two-stroke leaf blowers produce as much particulate pollution and nitrogen oxide in one hour of use as a Toyota Camry does in 1,100 miles of use. Such pollution has been linked to increases in cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, respiratory disease, cancer incidence and, most concerning of all, Alzheimer’s dementia. One study looking at brain autopsies of urban kids living in Mexico City, the world’s most polluted city, revealed not only that the particulate matter was in their brain tissue, but also that it had triggered inflammatory changes akin to Alzheimer’s, even at their young age.

I see in my practice every day the exponential growth in dementia in our population. So I stop here and ask myself – and I ask you too — Does “grooming” our lawns and gardens justify ruining everyone’s health? Why should we incur such health costs for ourselves and our loved ones for something that we could easily do without?

If you agree, join me. We can be advocates for a transition to clean landscaping equipment. We can refrain from deploying gasoline-powered equipment around our own homes and instead patronize environmentally responsible landscapers. We can look for opportunities to express our views to our elected representatives. Above all, we can make a difference for our health and the health of future generations.

Have a view on the use of gas-powered landscaping equipment in Fairfield? Interested in helping to further limit its use? If so, we’d love to hear from you – please provide your thoughts by writing to sustainablefairfieldtaskfor[email protected].

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