Saturday, February 4, 2023

Opinion: The City of Dallas is right to ban what harms public health

By Lori Lee
NDG Contributing Writer

We are starting to hear about the City of Dallas’ plans to ban gas-powered lawn equipment. These plans, now in the works, are expected to include a full ban of gasoline-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers and other landscaping tools by either 2027 or 2030.

What does this mean for our future? With the ongoing climate crises, it is no doubt that this is the right move for the City. It will, in fact, be no small step but a significant contribution toward worldwide efforts to combat global warming. The move will also help counter negative health effects associated with pollution.

One might say it is more than the roar of loud mowers or the inconvenience of having leaves blown about while trying to take a walk. The carcinogenic hazards that lawn equipment spews into the air threaten public health.

 

(Carnaby Gilany / Unsplash)

How many lives are lost to pollution each year? A 2019 study published in the National Academy of Sciences estimates that over 100,000 Americans die annually due to heart attacks, strokes and illnesses associated with air pollution.

And while grassy lawns, like all plants, renew the air with healthy oxygen, using gas-fueled equipment to care for these lawns negates any public health benefits. The resulting carbon monoxide, the major contributor to global warming, not only hurts public health now, but also the health of future generations.

Each lawn mower, in fact, produces more air pollution than each respective passenger vehicle on the road. Science Daily reports, just one person cutting their lawn for one hour is equivalent to multiple passengers taking a 100-mile ride in a automobile. As the EPA reports, off-road gas-powered equipment results in about 242 million tons of pollutants each year, an amount equivalent to that resulting from all cars and homes combined.

The problem is that lawn equipment technology and their emission controls have not progressed over the years, like automobiles. This is because they have gone largely unregulated.

Will businesses forced to replace gasoline-powered equipment be hurt in the near term? Probably so. However, those that plan to come out electric in front of the rest can market the environmental benefits of cleaner burning equipment and save from lower fuel costs. In the end, we will all be better off.

Lori Lee holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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