It was still early enough in the pandemic that my Zoom meetings felt novel, and spring birdsong brought hope of a swift return to normalcy.
Then the roar of a gasoline-powered blower drowned out both. The goldfinches outside took flight. Shutting my window only muffled the noise. You’re likely fortunate if loud lawn care is high on your list of problems in the past year. But blowers can be more than a nuisance. Some produce more than 100 decibels of low-frequency, wall-penetrating sound—or as much noise as a plane taking off—at levels that can cause tinnitus and hearing loss with long exposure. Beyond that, gas-powered lawn care of all kinds spews pollutants linked to cancers, heart disease, and asthma, and blowers blast air up to 280 miles per hour, eroding topsoil and sending pollen, fertilizers, and herbicides adrift. Workers who spend hours a day with equipment are most at risk.