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Allegheny County ranks among the worst nationally for lawn equipment emissions

Two electric leaf blowers and an electric trimmer sit on a grass lawn.
PennEnvironment reports that Pennsylvania is the fourth-worst state in the U.S. for “fine particulate pollution emissions from lawn and garden equipment." Allegheny County is ranked the second-worst county in the state and the 49th-worst in the U.S.

Cars and trucks aren’t the only mass-producers of air and climate pollution, according to a new report from Philadelphia-based research and policy center PennEnvironment.

According to the analysis, gas-powered lawn equipment in Allegheny County generated more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 — as much as more than 20,000 cars, and more than 80 tons of fine particulates in 2020 — as much as nearly 1 million cars. The analysis ranks the county among the worst in Pennsylvania and nationally in this category.

“Using a gas-powered leaf blower for just a single hour can release as much smog-forming pollution as driving your passenger car from Pittsburgh to Miami. Because the engines in our cars tend to be better, more modern and more efficient,” said Zachary Barber, a clean air advocate with PennEnvironment. He said gas-powered lawn equipment engines tend to be cheaper and less sophisticated.

The study recommends transitioning to electric lawn equipment in order to reduce pollution and noise, noting that “rechargeable battery-powered lawn equipment offers residential users comparable performance, value and convenience to gasoline-powered models with minimal environmental impact.”

The study indicates that while electric lawn equipment may sometimes have a higher initial price tag than gas-powered counterparts, consumers tend to save money over time through lower maintenance and operating costs.

The pollutants released by gas-powered lawn equipment can be linked to health problems such as asthma and cancer and contribute to climate issues such as global warming. Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the U.S. for fine particulate pollution emissions from lawn and garden equipment, according to the study.

Corrected: January 5, 2024 at 6:20 PM EST
This story was corrected to accurately reflect the amount of air and climate pollution produced by gas-powered lawn equipment in Allegheny County in 2020.