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updated: 7/11/2012 3:18 AM

In banning leaf blowers, a small victory against noise

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By Robert Whitcomb
The Providence Journal

Arlington, Mass., has joined in the fight against noise and air pollution by banning the use of leaf blowers between May 15 and Oct. 15. This gives languid homeowners and yard crews an opportunity to blast away when most of the leaves are conveniently on the ground, in mid- and late fall.

Arlington follows Brookline, Mass., which has banned most use of the earsplitting devices in the summer.

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Inevitably, of course, people will say their God-given liberties are being invaded. But what about the freedom not to have your ears drilled and to breathe air a little cleaner than the pollution that these machines emit? According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, a half-hour of leaf-blower use puts out as much carbon monoxide as a car traveling an average of 30 miles an hour for 440 miles.

That leaf blowers are obnoxious can be seen in the propensity of those hiring the yard crews that wield them to absent themselves from their premises when they're being used. Let the neighbors suffer! The noise creates dead zones that extend out to many yards from the engines.

Wildlife flees and people go into their homes for relief.

The bid for at least partial bans on leaf blowers may be the start of a wider campaign against noise. Pressuring stores to turn off, or at least turn down, the generally awful music, or Muzak, they play would be another useful front in this war.

Meanwhile, we can hope that somebody invents a really effective and quiet electric-powered leaf blower, with some of the power produced by wind turbines. (They really are quieter than leaf blowers.) Or at least some kind of a super-muffler.

Scripps Howard News Service

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