Gas Leaf Blower Phase-Out

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​Questions?

Email Carissa Ebling at [email protected]

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In December 2023, Ann Arbor City Council enacted a new citywide requirement to phase out the use of gas-powered leaf blowers.

Phasing out gas-powered leaf blowers will lead to improved community health, less noise pollution, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.


What are the new restrictions?

Summer ban: Beginning in 2024, the use of gas-powered leaf blowers will be prohibited in Ann Arbor from June 1st to September 30th. 

Seasonal use and phase-out: The use of gas-powered leaf blowers will be permitted from October 1st to May 30th through 2027. Beginning January 1st, 2028, the use of gas-powered leaf blowers will be prohibited at all times in Ann Arbor.

General Restrictions: It is prohibited to blow or sweep debris, trash, leaves, plant clippings, or yard waste into a neighboring property, street, sidewalk, drain, or public right-of-way.​

Exceptions:
  • Any leaf blower may be used at any time:
    • In an emergency to protect health, safety, or property; or
    • To restore property immediately after an emergency, such as to clear a walkway, driveway, or street from debris following a storm or other natural disaster.
  • Any leaf blower may be used in street, sidewalk, or other paving construction or repair at any time when such work is otherwise permitted.
  • Turbine blowers may be used at any time of year, and leaf blowers may be used when necessary to prepare recreational facilities for use, such as golf courses or playing fields, or to maintain public facilities. 
Penalties: Violations of this ordinance will result in a civil fine of at least $100 for a first offense and at least $250 for a subsequent offense per individual in violation of the ordinance​. Fines may be issued to an individual who violates the ordinance or an employer that permits or directs an individual to violate the ordinance.

Read the full ordinance here.


​How to report a violation

If you see someone in violation of the leaf blower ordinance, you can report it to the Ann Arbor Police Department Community Standards at (734)-794-6942.


Why phase-out gas-powered leaf blowers?

​​Health: Gas-burning leaf blowers release harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, and fine particulate pollution. Exposure to these pollutants can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, and respiratory disease​​.

Emissions​: Using a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour can emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving a gas-powered car over 1000 miles.

Noise: Gas-powered leaf blowers can operate as loud as 100 decibels, which is almost as loud as a jet flyover at a sporting event. This high volume can cause hearing damage and stress from noise pollution. 

Environmental contamination: Spills are common when refueling gas-powered leaf blowers. Fuel spills seep into soil and can enter groundwater and waterways.


Alternatives to gas-powered leaf blowers

Skip the leaf blower​: A great alternative to using a gas leaf blower is to skip the leaf blower all together. Leaving whole or mulched leaves on a lawn provides a much-needed habitat for pollinator species, and a broom or rake can be used to remove leaves from sidewalks or driveways. If a leaf blower is being used to remove mowed grass from a sidewalk or driveway, the area of mowed turfgrass can be reduced by planting native groundcover in place of turfgrass, or by extending the area of garden beds. To learn more about pollinator aware yard care, visit our pollinator aware yard care webage, or take a look at the CTN episode linked below.

 

​​Go electric​: Electric leaf blowers are healthier alternatives to their gas-burning counterparts and are widely available. They produce no harmful air pollutants during operation, they run more quietly and are lighter than gas leaf blowers, and they have fewer moving parts that can break. Lawn care companies and property owners are encouraged to watch the CTN episode linked below, featuring Mike Van Patten, Director of Commercial Property Management at Oxford Companies, and Gordan Smith, co-owner of NetZero Tree Care, to learn more about how to implement electric lawn care on a larger scale. The Office of Sustainability and Innovations will launch resources to help lower the cost of transitioning to electric leaf blowers by December 2024. ​

 


How to sustainably dispose of gas-powered leaf blowers

If you are looking to dispose of your gas leaf blower, we recommend taking it to ​​Recycle Ann Arbor's Drop Off Station or GLR Advanced Recycling. Before taking your leaf blower to either of these facilities, remember to drain it of gasoline. Washtenaw County accepts gasoline from residents by appointment on Saturdays at its Home Toxics Center on Zeeb road and Tuesday through Thursday at its HHW Center in Northville. Please note that Washtenaw County does not accept gasoline waste from businesses. If you have any questions about how to dispose of the gasoline in your leaf blowers, reach out to Will Garcia at [email protected].​


What is coming next?

The City of Ann Arbor will launch resources to help lower the cost of transitioning to electric leaf blowers for residents and commercial business owners by the end of 2024.

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​​​Additional resources

A flyer explaining the gas leaf blower phase-out can be downloaded here: Gas Leaf Blower Phase-Out Flyer.pdf