Jennette Gayer holds up a copy of new report about how gas-powered lawn equipment generates noise and air pollution as other environmentalists stand in support. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Few sounds make me angrier than gas-powered leaf blowers. Every time I hear them, they disturb our environment by emitting hazardous fumes and noise pollution in our communities. 

In fact, gas-powered leaf blowers are among the greatest contributors to air pollution in Georgia and beyond.

A new report by Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center confirms what we already knew. Gas-powered lawnmowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other garden equipment generate large amounts of air and noise pollution.

Lawn and garden equipment in Georgia emitted an estimated 864 tons of harmful air pollution in 2020, an amount equivalent to the pollution emitted by 9.2 million typical cars over the course of a year, according to the report, which analyzed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.

Brian Wheeler and Sally Phipps of EcoLawns show the electric lawn equipment they use. The EcoLawns trailer has solar-powered recharging stations, meaning the service has virtually no emissions. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

The report also showed that Georgia is among the top 10 states in the amount of air pollution generated by gas-powered lawn equipment. And four counties in metro Atlanta — Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — were among the top 10 in the state.

The good news is there are alternatives — electric lawn equipment — that are readily available for residential and commercial uses.

Jennette Gayer, a director with the Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center, and other environmental leaders invited people to Avondale Estates at the offices of Shades of Green Permaculture to demonstrate how electric lawn equipment is already in use.

Its zero-emissions service only uses electric-powered lawn equipment, and its EcoLawns trailer has solar panels that recharge the lithium batteries so the service can operate continuously.

All forms of electric lawn equipment — including leaf blowers — are also widely available for residential users at affordable prices.

The bad news is that during its 2023 session the Georgia State Legislature passed a law that forbids cities and counties from regulating or restricting the use of gas-powered lawn equipment. According to an exchange on Next Door, Georgia is the first state in the nation to pass such a bill.

How short-sighted. 

Studies after studies have shown that gas-powered lawn equipment are one of the greatest contributors to air pollution – and a leading cause of climate change. And yet, our state is doing all it can to prevent local governments from encouraging the transition to electric equipment. Fortunately, that law is supposed to sunset in 2031.

Georgia is among the top 10 states contributing to carbon dioxide emissions from gas-powered lawn equipment. (Source: Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center.)

“We took a step back,” Gayer said of the new state legislation. “We are calling on local governments to do work that will encourage this revolution and the transition from gas to electric.”

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said it’s an especially important time of year to focus on alternatives.

“Over the next several weeks we will be hearing the buzzing of leaf blowers,” Terry said. “We have to take action on climate change.”

The report highlighted several facts that show how gas-powered lawn equipment is bad for the environment. For example, using a gas leaf blower for one hour produces as much pollution as 15 cars driving in your neighborhood for one hour.

The report did encourage local and state governments to use electric equipment on public property and provide financial incentives to promote the widespread adoption of electric lawn equipment. The report further suggested cities and states consider restrictions on the sale and use of the most polluting fossil fuel-powered equipment. 

Terry said he would do what he could to promote electric equipment in DeKalb County.

DeKalb Commissioner Ted Terry shows how quiet and effective an electric leaf blower can be. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

“These tools are harming the environment we steward and affecting the health of those doing this valuable work,” Terry said. “This is why I’m championing efforts that will assist with an equitable transition to electric lawn tools.”  

Vicki Mann, co-founder of Quiet Georgia, also endorsed the use of alternatives to gas-powered lawn equipment.

“We have a chance to cut down on our air and noise pollution problem by switching to cleaner, quieter, readily available electric lawn equipment,” Mann said. “We shouldn’t accept tons of air pollution and ear-splitting noise as an inevitable byproduct of taking care of our gardens and lawns, nor should it come at the expense of the landscape workers health that maintain them.”

Gayer summed it up by saying the evidence is clear to make the transition to electric.

“There’s a new generation of quiet lawn equipment,” Gayer said. “It’s absurd that we have been tolerating so much harmful pollution and noise just to cut grass and maintain landscapes.”’s interactive U.S. map showing carbon emissions throughout the country.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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  1. Given the barriers to regulation described here, opponents of gas-powered leaf blowers might expand their repertoire of tactics.

    Georgia’s state government is majority Republican, so advocates of leaf-blower controls might meet with more success if they framed their arguments in a logic that appealed to Republicans. Instead of mentioning global warming (Democrats’ top issue?) they might talk about, say, property rights. One homeowner’s noisy leaf blower effectively trespasses on their neighbor’s property by destroying the neighbor’s use and enjoyment of their private property. Republicans in the state house could be urged to better protect private property rights by controlling such “leaf-blower trespass.”

    Another possible strategy would be to have neighborhood associations pass non-binding resolutions that urge their members not to use gas-powered blowers. (Some neighborhoods have done this, I know.) Then public-spirited local residents might follow up on that by meeting their neighbors “at the fence” and urging them to switch to battery-powered devices. Friendly and neighborly peer pressure could induce a voluntary change.

    Additionally, neighbors might approach the offending landscaping contractors directly and ask them to switch to battery units (while mentioning that local residents are urging neighbors to make the switch away from noisy contractors.)

    By employing diverse tactics such as these, advocates for eliminating gas-powered leaf blowers might overcome today’s obstacles and restore calm to our neighborhoods.

  2. It’s the noise. On the other hand, it’s the power.

    Gas leaf blowers are more powerful than electrics, and gas has a lot more energy density. Lawn services see electrics as impractical for that reason.

    I want gas equipment gone, too. But the underlying problem is people who demand that their yards look like golf courses. They want to pretend they don’t have trees on their lots, or that their neighbors don’t. They demand uniculture, the same type of grass each blade standing at the same height.

    This was true when my neighbors were black and poor. It’s true now that my neighbors are white and rich. The difference is my old neighbors took care of their lots, even prided themselves on their skill and the results. Today’s neighbors just buy it, from services that depend on heavy machines to get the job done fast.

    1. it’s untrue that electric are by default less powerful than gas-powered. There are more and less powerful versions of both.
      However, the noise and pollution comparisons pale; there are NO gas-powered devices quieter or cleaner than any electric versions.

  3. Maria says: one blower is the same as 15 cars driving one hour
    California says: one hour blower usage is the same as one car 5 hours.
    BBC says 490 tons of air pollution produced from cars in one year.
    BBC says .049 tons of air pollution produce from all the gas powered equipment in one year.
    As a processional landscaper the electric equipment is junk from the big box’s. This is my lively hood and I have been using gas powered equipment for 40 years with no health effect. Respecting the equipment keeping the blower noise low. Unlike the new generation of gardeners where its all speed and go with a I dont care attitude. It dosent help that the gas blower has a unique frequency that it produces that makes a sound that traves though walls long desistances. There are only two equipment manufactures that are ok with battery. To supply one worker its going to cost me 8400.00 and that includes 11 batteries. With all that I will need to upgrade my panel at the shop to handle all that. 7100.00 to get that done. My Insurance co told me that If I charge my equipment at any home or commercial business and that battery catches on fire they are not responsible. Its berceuse this whole thing is new to the industry’s. I do carry a 3 million dollar policy but that still might not help. Before you say ” the equipment is out there” put yourself in a business owners shoes and watch how fast the costs add up. This is really going to effect the small owners

    1. thanks Johnny for that really good ‘real world’ response. I really appreciate it.
      What kind of regulation do you think would be helpful?
      Around my place most of the operators are not experienced or careful and have very poor, noisy and smelly equipment, and during fall it seems almost constant, from one side of the house or the other, or even across the street. Some of the neighboring businesses start blowing at 6am!

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