A leaf blower is a handy power tool that is typically used for performing outdoor cleaning. It produces powerful gusts of air enough to blow away piles of leaves, garbage, or any debris. Most homeowners might get intrigued by using a leaf blower inside their using for cleaning purposes owing to its superior cleaning capabilities. This blog post shall discuss the safety concerns related to the indoor use of a leaf blower.
Can you use a leaf blower inside?
You should never use your leaf blower inside your house. A leaf blower can produce three hundred miles per hour blasts of air in a straight line, which is enough to blow out your door or window when this air blast hits one.
A short answer is good for only those who are short of time but it will not explain the details that you are looking for. Scroll on to read the detailed answer to the above question.
Adverse Effects of a Leaf Blower’s Indoor Use
● Leaf Blower’s Noise:
The biggest disadvantage of using a leaf blower indoors is the noise. Its high-frequency screaming noise ruins the peace and tranquillity of the neighborhood when used indoors. It can distract and irritate people.
It is essential to use hearing protection when operating a leaf blower; otherwise, it may result in a permanent loss of hearing. Eighty-five decibels are the approximate point at which extended exposure can cause hearing loss. A leaf blower makes a noise of ninety decibels if exposed to, for two hours continuously; it can cause a permanent hearing loss.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated on hearing: “About forty million US adults aged twenty to sixty-nine years suffer from noise-induced hearing loss because of being around deafening noise – like using a leaf blower indoors. It causes a permanent hearing loss; once it is gone, you can never get it back!”
Leaf-blowing noise “is just something that gets into your bones, and even after it is stopped, you can still hear that noise,” said Jamie Banks, the founder of Quiet Communities (QC), a self-described non-profit organization, in an interview to the New York Times. She added that “the leaf blower noise at fifty feet ranges from sixty-four to seventy-eight decibels,” which is deafening. She also said, “our children are especially vulnerable to negative health consequences from these types of noise and pollution.”
She underscored, “The leaf blowers are allowed to operate regularly near schools, play areas, and public parks. Let us connect the dots together and protect our children’s health. We have more practical and healthier alternatives. These problems are fully preventable.”
Dave Trezza, a tester at Consumer Reports says that there is a huge difference between the noise levels of different types of leaf blowers. The backpack gas-powered leaf blowers are the loudest and the most harmful for your ears. Trezza advises you to check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) while buying a new one.
● Noise Reduction Rating:
The ideal Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is twenty to thirty; the higher the figures, the better the leaf blower is to your ears. Other than hearing loss, the use of a leaf blower inside your house will cause annoyance, decreased school performance, headache, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disorder, sleep disruption, tinnitus, stress, hypertension, productivity loss.
The air blast from a leaf blower will push such a huge volume of loose dust and mud in a specific direction, which will probably create a powerful dust storm inside your house. It will lead to asthma, rash, dust allergy, dry cough, skin irritation, etc. It is such a harmful tool that poses a breathing threat, particularly to asthmatics, infants, the elderly, and premature babies.
“The basic idea is that the smaller the particles of dust, webs, pollen, leaves or mud, the deeper they can be inhaled into your lungs and the more probability it has to cause serious health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, asthma, and other severe respiratory tract ailments,” said Jo Kay Ghosh, an Epidemiologist, and a Health Effects Officer.
● Cleaning your House with a Leaf Blower:
Using a leaf blower indoors is not cleaning your house, in fact, it is a simple foolish method to disturb and redistribute the dust particles present indoors. Every year, 1.2 billion gallons of gas are burnt by leaf blowers in the United States. Constant use of leaf blowers in the ground-level ozone layer is carcinogenic.
Dust blown indoors by a leaf blower contains dead human skin, dead bugs, and infectious microbes. Dust acts as a fomite that will spread different viruses. Every year in the UK, asbestos, sand, and wood particles in the air contribute to 12000 deaths.
The indoor use of a leaf blower blows up tons of dust in a single second. When dust in the air reaches a very high level, it will cause explosions. If the air in your house has particles of coal and silica particles, you can suffer from pneumoconiosis.
A leaf blower inside the house causes pneumoconiosis when the mineral dust is inhaled in large quantities. Household dust particles settle down in your lungs for a very long period of time, resulting in inflammation or fibrosis. The damage caused to your lungs will show up after many years when you are beyond any cure.
All of the diseases mentioned above are easily preventable if you stop inhaling the excessive amount of dust blown by a leaf blower. The size and weight of the dust particles determine how far they will settle down in your lungs. The smaller the particles the deeper down they get.
When you inhale many of the smallest particles of dust, they deposit in your air sacs or alveoli and your bronchial tubes or airway located in the depth of your chest. Your lungs cannot get rid of these dust particles, so they develop fibrosis or scars, resulting in shortness of breath and dry cough. In rare cases, it can lead to an early death.
A recent study that appeared in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology shows that your household dust contains poisonous chemicals, flame retardants, and phthalates. The researchers have revealed that these dust particles are also responsible for hormonal changes, reproductive and developmental issues. Ami R. Zota, Sc.D., at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., led the research.
Zota collected dust samples from daycare centers, houses, cars, gymnasium, and schools. They calculated 45 harmful chemicals in these samples. “These estimates show that these chemicals do not stay in the dust; rather, they get into the human bodies,” said Robin Dodson, Sc.D., a research scientist at Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass. and a co-author of this study.
She advises us to use air purifiers and vacuum cleaners indoors instead of using the nasty leaf blowers. They found that people and in particular children are exposed to the harmful flame retardant and phthalates found in household dust. Phthalates are a chemical found in soft plastic used in personal care products, food packaging, and vinyl flooring.
Household dust also contains the harmful particles of DEPH which is a potent phthalate. If you use your leaf blower inside your house the flame retardants spread in the air. Flame retardants are the top 10 chemicals found in household dust.
“I had a suspicion that the phthalates will rise to the top,” Robinson said. “But the fact that flame retardants are almost equally as high is harmful.” Flame retardants are found in baby products and furniture to meet flammability standards.
“There may be a healthier way to deal with some of these issues than dumping the harmful chemicals into the products we buy every day,” she said. Some other chemicals commonly found in the indoor air inhaled if you use your leaf blower inside include fragrances, phenols such as BPA in plasticware, parabens in body lotions, and fluorinated chemicals as PFCs in nonstick utensils.
Only 5 out of 45 chemicals found in the household dust have safety limits. “Our aim was to look at indoor exposure to harmful chemicals, using dust as a way to understand their loading in our homes,” she concluded.
Ban on Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers
Most of the cities in the United States have already imposed a ban on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. The list is pretty long, and it includes Arlington in Massachusetts, Aspen in Colorado, Belvedere, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Boulder, Brookline, Cambridge, Carmel, Claremont, Del Mar, Dobbs Ferry, Evanston, Foster City, Framingham, Hastings, Honolulu, Houston, Indian Wells, Key West, Laguna Beach, Lawndale, Los Altos, Los Angeles, Malibu, Mamaroneck, Maplewood, Menlo Park, Mill Valley, Montclair, New Rochelle, Oyster Bay, Palm Beach, Palo Alto, Pelham Manor, Pelham, Portland, Portsmouth, Rye, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Scarsdale, Scottsdale, Sunnyvale, Tampa, Tiburon, Toronto, Vancouver, Westchester County, West Hollywood, White Plains, Winnetka, and Yonkers in New York.
In short, health and safety are the primary concerns of any household over which no compromise should ever be made. It is just not wise to risk the health and safety of your family members owing to a slight carelessness. Garden power tools, be it lawnmowers, chainsaws, or even leaf blowers, exist on the upper end of the loudness scale. They are designed for outdoor use only. Hence, whenever you operate them, ensure you exercise caution and follow the proper safety protocols designed to operate these devices. In this way, you can guard yourself and your family members against accidents and potential health hazards.