I know lawn mowing seems trivial in some respects, but for this blog it is purposeful behavior. Behavior that can be modified. Mowers do not start themselves nor do they drive around by themselves. So for millions of us every time you start a mower think about it. Do you really need to do this and is this mower the right one for the job?
Cleaner Air : Gas Mower Pollution Facts
EPA Statistics: Gas Mowers represent 5% of U.S. Air Pollution
Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until the late 1990’s, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new gas powered lawn mower produces volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions air pollution in in in one hour of operation as 11 new cars each being driven for one hour.
Gardeners Spill More than the Exxon Valdez
And speaking of gas, the EPA estimates that over 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. That’s more than all the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez, in the Gulf of Alaska. In addition to groundwater contamination, spilled fuel that evaporates into the air and volatile organic compounds spit out by small engines make smog-forming ozone when cooked by heat and sunlight.
Until 1995, lawnmower emissions were unregulated. Older more powerful, less efficient two-cycle engines release 25-30% of their oil and gas unburned into the air. Gas mowers emit hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (the principle ingredients of smog), particulate matter (damaging to the respiratory system), carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) and carbon dioxide (contributing to global warming). The health toll includes cancer as well as damage to lungs, heart, and both the immune and detoxification systems. Plus smog inhibits plant growth. Lawnmowers are currently subject to EPA’s Phase 2 regulations. These requirements have reduced volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides emissions by over 70 percent from unregulated levels. EPA’s Phase 3 regulations take effect in 2012 for lawnmowers and will result in additional reductions in these pollutants.
Go there and read. More tomorrow.