The environmental pollution generated by commonly used two-stroke, gas-powered lawn equipment such as leaf blowers, rivals the output of a Ford 150 pickup truck. The carcinogens and noise produced by these tools creates a health risk to the operator and community as well.
Those were just two of the warnings relayed by Grif Johnson of Quiet Clean DC at Tuesday night’s Ward 5E Advisory Neighborhood Committee meeting. Johnson came before the Ward 5E ANC to ask their support on bill B22-0234 that’s currently before the Washington, D.C. City Council. Bill B22-0234 prohibits the sale, offer for sale, or use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in the District, beginning on January 1, 2022. Persons in violation of this order will be subject to a fine of not more than $500.
Johnson pointed to many health-related conditions caused by these tools including asthma, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders, hypertension, and lung cancer to name a few. “It causes sleeplessness, anxiety and other neurological and psychological conditions,” Johnson said. He also spoke to the damage caused by the high decibel levels the operators are exposed to.
Centers for Diseses Control
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last year published a finding that 2 hours of exposure to 90 decibels will cause hearing loss…hearing loss is permanent and irretrievable.” This equipment operates at up to 100 decibels. “There’s an environmental justice here. Many of them don’t have good English language skills and don’t understand things that can be done to mitigate the harm that it’s causing,” Johnson said.
Johnson concluded his presentation by pointing out the growing transition from gas-powered lawn equipment by landscaping companies such as BrightView and Stihl. BrightView is one of the largest landscaping companies in the country while Stihl is one of the largest manufacturers of commercial landscaping equipment. “Join the other ANCs that are endorsing the passage of this bill for the betterment of ourselves and our children,” Johnson said thanking the commission for allowing him to speak tonight.
The commissioners spent the next twenty minutes questioning Johnson. One of the primary concerns was whether Ward 5 residents, who miss the deadline, would be adversely impacted by the bill. This led to questions on who’s responsible for handing out fines, whether there will be a warning system, etc. Johnson reported that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs would be handling this. He also advised that the immediate plans are education first and that moving immediately to fines is not the direction the DCRA plans to take.
The commissioner’s questioning was ended by Bradley Thomas, the ANC Chairman. “I fully support this bill,” were the chairman’s opening remarks. He provided a brief account of his knowledge and work on reducing greenhouse gasses and other environment concerns before reading a one-and-a-half-page resolution to endorse the bill. The Chairman read ANC Resolution in support of the bill. The resolution was passed by a vote of 6 to 2 moving Johnson one step closer to the full endorsement of all the other Ward 5 ANCs.