Thursday, March 29, 2012

@#$%&* Leafblowers!

They are everywhere, these days. Every lawn service finishes up each and every job by whipping out a leafblower or two and "cleaning up." And this amounts to blowing leaves, clippings, dirt, and dust around, usually onto neighboring properties or the street. It's the last that really gets me. Driving my daughter to school in the morning, I pass landscaping crews almost every day. And invariably, one is finishing up when I pass so I get treated to driving through a cloud of dust and dirt, which of course does wonders for my air filters and exterior.

To be fair, occasionally a guy with a blower will be conscientious enough to stop when cars are driving by, but that's becoming more and more rare. I pity the people in convertibles, I really do.

The total lack of respect bugs me, but not so much as the thought of unintended consequences. Because it seems to me that things like asthma and allergies are on the rise among children. Growing up, I never had allergies to speak of. I'm hard-pressed to remember any friends that had them. Yet, my children suffer from them now, as do many of their friends.

According to Wikipedia, the prevalence of asthma has steadily increased since the 1960's. The number of people suffering from allergies is on the rise, too. There are many explanations for both, with Climate Change--unsurprisingly--being near the top of the heap. There's also our increasingly sedentary lifestyle as a cause, along with urban living (leading to a greater exposure to industrial pollutants), and modern conveniences like central heating and carpets.

But look at this chart, from Clean Air California:

Striking, isn't it? Correlation does not equal causation, of course, but it's data that is difficult to ignore.

To be clear, I'm not advocating a "war on leafblowers," however. But I think people need to use some common sense and engage in some common courtesy. Leafblowers are fine for blowing leaves, but they're really not good tools for cleaning things up. Before the advent of the leafblower, clippings were bagged, leaves were raked, and dirt was swept. If you wanted to really neaten things up, you hosed everything down, washing off sidewalks and paths, which put the dirt, dust, and excess clippings right back into your own lawn, not into your neighbor's yard, the street, or my car's grillwork.

Set aside the issues of health and look at leafblower usage from the standpoint of personal responsibility, alone. It's your yard, your dirt, your dust. Take care of it yourself, don't "spread it around." Because after all, it's just getting spread right back the next day by your neighbor, in all likelihood. 

Cheers, all.

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