New data shows lawn equipment spews ‘shocking’ amounts of air pollution

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Lawn-care equipment – ​​leaf-blowers, lawnmowers, and so on – doesn’t top the list of most people’s climate priorities. But a new report shows how, overall, lawn care is a major source of American air pollution.

Using the latest available data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 National Emissions Inventory, the report found that the device released more than 68,000 tons of smog-forming nitrous oxide, equivalent to the pollution from about 30 million cars. Lawn equipment also spewed 30 million tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide, more than the total emissions of the city of Los Angeles.

“When it comes to these little engines in lawn and garden equipment, it’s really counterintuitive,” said Kirsten Schatz, lead author of the report and clean air advocate at Colorado PIRG, a nonprofit environmental organization. “This stuff is really causing a lot of air pollution, health problems and is contributing disproportionately to climate change.”

Lawn equipment also contributed to other air toxins like formaldehyde and benzene, according to the report, titled “Lawn care gone electric, But perhaps the most worrisome pollutant it emits is microscopic particles known as PM2.5.

PM2.5 is much smaller than the width of a human hair and can cause health problems ranging from cancer, reproductive diseases and mental health problems to premature death. The report found that gas-powered lawn equipment emitted 21,800 tons of PM2.5 in 2020 — equivalent to the pollution from 234 million typical cars over the course of a year.

This larger impact occurs because gas-powered lawn equipment runs on different types of engines than passenger cars. They are smaller – coming in two- and four-stroke versions, which refers to the difference in the engine’s combustion cycles – and are generally less efficient, with two-stroke engines being particularly problematic because they require lubricants. Runs on a mixture of oil and gasoline.

“(This) really inefficient engine technology is, pound for pound, more polluting than cars and trucks,” Schatz said. ” Outdoor equipment produces quite a shocking amount of pollution.”

Emissions also vary widely by state. California and Florida rank highest for carbon dioxide emissions from lawn equipment, while Florida and Texas top the list for PM2.5 pollution. While one might expect that the sheer amount of lawn care in California, America’s most populous state, would place it high on PM2.5 pollution, it comes in only 29th. According to Tony Dutzik, a senior policy analyst at Frontier Group and a contributor to the report, less two-stroke engine use is responsible for the difference between the state’s carbon and particulate emissions.

Nationally, two-stroke engines are responsible for 82 percent of PM2.5 from lawn equipment, but in California it accounts for only 41 percent, he said. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why the difference in usage is so pronounced, but one theory is that California’s history of regulating small engines is proving beneficial.

“California has consistently been ahead on (small engine) emissions standards since the mid-1990s,” Dutzik said. That leadership continues: a statewide Ban on small off-road enginesIncluding lawn equipment, it is set to be implemented next year. Schatz argues that the rest of the country should follow California and promote electricity options that run on rechargeable batteries.

“We now have a lot of clean, quiet electricity options available,” Schatz said. “Battery technology has come a long way.”

Many states and municipalities offer rebates on battery-powered lawn equipment, and more are make a switch, This is also true in the commercial lawn-care sector, which is responsible for the bulk of emissions, but is more difficult to electrify because companies often require more powerful machines with longer runtimes than residential users.

Kelly Giard started Clean Air Lawn Care Company in 2006, when she said the technology was “limited” for commercial operations. But this is changing rapidly and has helped his company grow. Their franchises now serve approximately 10,000 customers in 16 states.

“At this point,” Giard said of his electric fleet’s performance, “it’s on par with gas.”

This article was originally published in grain to grind But, Grist is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and an equitable future. Learn more here

(Tagstotranslate) air pollution (T) pollution (T) lawn (T) United States vehicle emissions standards (T) environment (T) Kelly Giard (T) household appliances (T) internal combustion engine (T) grist (T) particulates (T)Smog(T)Kirsten Schatz(T)Leaf Blowers(T)Climate Forcing(T)Gardening Tools(T)Vehicle Emissions Standards(T)Tony Dutzik(T)Gizmodo

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