Council may ban fuel-powered leaf blowers amid health concerns

One councillor said there were alternatives including electric leaf blowers and 'a good old fashioned rake'.

Edinburgh Council is to investigate banning the use of fuel powered leaf blowers in the city after concerns were raised about the health impact on workers.

Councillors unanimously passed a motion which noted fumes emitted by the devices “have been linked to an increase in the risk of cancer, heart disease and asthma”.

The Greens’ Alex Staniforth, who raised the issue at the Culture and Communities Committee, said they are also bad for the environment and he referenced research which found using one for 30 minutes “emits more carbon than a pick-up truck driving from Texas to Alaska”.

Cllr Staniforth stressed there were alternatives including electric leaf blowers and “a good old fashioned rake”.

He said: “These fossil fuel leaf blowers are incredibly polluting and potentially damaging to the health of those who use them.

“If we look at the council using them that’s potential health damage to our own staff, if our contractors are using them we don’t really want to encourage that damage to the planet either and to their health.

“There is nothing that epitomises something that the Greens often say more than getting rid of these things; ‘for people, for planet’ is one of our slogans and honestly getting rid of these things improves health for people and improves health for the planet.

“To conclude, fossil fuel leaf blowers may well blow, but they also most definitely suck.”

Fellow Greens councillor Dan Heap added: “The other aspect of this is the noise pollution aspect.

“In my ward for example in Broomhouse there’s a lot of council maintained areas of green just ext to people’s houses and they are very very noisy. So doing anything we can do to reduce pollutants but also the noise pollutants would be fantastic.”

The motion agreed by the committee requested officials to draft a report with options for: the council ‘ending its own use of fossil-fuel powered leaf blowers, ensuring its contractors do not use fossil-fuel powered leaf blowers and banning or regulating the use of fossil-fuel leaf blowers within the city of Edinburgh’.

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