Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Oh, blow me.

Hatred of leaf blowers is going to be a theme of this site, I can feel it. Walking back from class I had to pass through the event horizon of one of those damnable machines. It's not enough to have to contend with the noise pollution emanating from the crunky trunk of the slammed Olds with the stop-n-gos ("look how we sailin', 26 inches . . ."). Really, that just makes me nostalgic for the old Bubb Rubb / Lil Sis video. And even though some of the modifications likely make it somewhat more polluting, I don't feel like I'm sucking on the tailpipe when I walk by, unlike the leaf blower, which I may as well be mainlining. Turn that thing off, line up some pollen and street dust (see below), and just let me snort it straight on up into my sinuses. Seriously. I'm not getting enough over here. While you're at it, crank up that two-stroke internal combustion engine a bit more. I'm not getting enough particulate matter today-- you know, the buses are running on clean fuel now. Damn hippies.

Californians seem to hate leaf blowers:
Leaf blower motors are inordinately large emitters of CO, NOx, HC, and PM according to a study conducted for the ARB. Two-stroke engine fuel is a gasoline-oil mixture, thus especially toxic. Particles from combustion are virtually all smaller than PM2.5. According to the Lung Association, a leaf blower causes as much smog as 17 cars.
One leaf blower = 17 cars. One leaf blower = 17 cars. One leaf blower = 17 cars. I'm waiting for that to sink in. And that's from the emissions of the two stroke combustion engine alone. The things also kick up inordinate amounts of pollen, organic matter, and street dust (this one was blowing along Cumberland Avenue, and if you know Knoxville, you know what kind of crap is in that street). Yes, street dust.
Street dust includes lead, organic carbon, and elemental carbon according to a study conducted for the ARB. The Lung Association states "the lead levels are of concern due to [their] great acute toxicity... Elemental carbon...usually contains several adsorbed carcinogens." Another study found arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and mercury in street dust as well. [from the same article cited above]
Yeah! Where can I get more of THAT?

No really, I do understand that it's of paramount importance that UT's sidewalks be free of organic matter, street dust, and debris. Someone might slip and fall on one of those spiky sweetgum balls and sue the university. Or someone might be offended by the encroachment of the organic into the inorganic. Boundaries! We must respect boundaries!

You're fighting a losing battle guys. Turn off the leaf blowers already. There are better alternatives: brooms, rakes, entropy... I'd even settle for some sort of vacuum thing with a proper filter attachment / dust collection bag. Even if it were as noisy as a blower, it would be a small step toward environmental leadership.

[by the way, the link to the danger mouse mp3 above comes from the wired / creative commons cd project, which you should definitely check out, if you haven't already. good stuff: westerberg, beastie boys, le tigre, matmos, chuck d, the aforementioned DM, etc]

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