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In recent years, government entities, mostly counties and municipalities-have been cracking down on leaf blowers. In fact, there are now more than 200 across the U.S. that have some type of restrictions in place.

Regulations are unique across the board. In general, they aim to address the environmental, noise, and health concerns related to the use of these machines.  

Recently, Montgomery County, Maryland, passed a gas blower ban, the first phase of which will soon go into effect this summer. Keep reading for details, so that you can know exactly what activities are permitted. It too has specific stipulations and timelines.  

This article looks at the reasoning behind leaf blower prohibitions across the country. It also explains the nuances of the Montgomery County ban. Keep reading to learn more. 

Why Do Governments Ban Leaf Blowers?

Leaf-blower laws and regulations can vary among locations. Some ban all types of leaf blowers for landscaping, while others target gasoline-powered ones. In many instances, the laws go into effect gradually, giving home and business owners ample time to make adjustments.  

Currently, the cities of Washington, D.C.; Miami Beach, Florida; and Evanston, Illinois have current, all-out bans. Portland and Seattle have passed laws that are being phased in over the next several years.  

There are some general reasons that government entities decide to ban leaf blowers. Here are the main ones to consider. 

Noise Pollution

The motivation behind many leaf blower bans is that they can be exceedingly loud. In fact, some gas leaf blowers can procure sounds of up to 100 decibels of low-frequency noise. That is on par with a Boeing 737 taking off

These noises can be a major disruption, especially for neighbors, passers-by, or anyone in close proximity. It also can cause health issues, such as hearing loss or stress. 

Health Concerns

Beyond the ones associated with loud noises, gasoline leaf blowers can have other negative health effects. Particulate matter in emissions can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems and allergies. 

People living near these fumes can experience these negative impacts through no fault of their own. This can be detrimental on a personal level, but it also becomes a public health concern. This is in part why some government agencies have stepped in. 

Environmental Impact

For the same reasons, gas leaf blowers can have negative environmental impacts. Burning fossil fuels like oil and gas releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is linked to increased global temperatures and related problems, like rising sea levels. 

You may be thinking that such emissions from relatively small engines must be nominal compared to other sources, such as vehicles. So, why go after them?  

There are two parts to this answer. First, gas leaf blowers may emit more pollution than you think. According to the California Air Resources Board, running an average-sized gas-powered leaf blower can emit the same level of smog-forming pollution as driving a Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver. 

That is because most leaf blowers have an inefficient, “two-stroke” engine. It mixes oil and gas, and emits about a third of that fuel as an unburned aerosol.

Ready Alternative

The other major part of the answer is that there is an alternative-electric leaf blowers-waiting in the wings. These machines are comparable both in performance and price to gas blowers, and they do not have anywhere close to these negative impacts. Banning gas-powered ones forces residents to opt for this more environmentally friendly alternative.

Regulatory Compliance

A final reason that some counties and municipalities pass gas blower bans is to help them meet environmental goals. These are often part of a broader environmental initiative enacted at the state level, designed to enhance public health. A gas blower ban can help local governments meet such standards.  

Montgomery County’s Gas Blower Ban 

In October 2023, Montgomery County, MD, which includes the northern D.C. suburbs of Bethesda and Rockville, passed a law that begins to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers. There are two main stages to this process.  

On July 1, 2024, the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums will be banned in the country. One year later, on July 1, 2025, the use of all gas-powered blowers and vacuums will be banned. After that date, the county can levy a fine of $500 per violation for using the banned equipment.  

It is important to note that, besides banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers, the ordinance extends to any equipment that is louder than 70 decibels at 50 feet. Hypothetically, users of very loud electric blowers (or other lawn equipment) could be fined as well. 

In addition, the ordinance contains a rebate that promotes the purchase of Rockville and Bethesda gas blower alternatives. It contributes to the purchase of new electric leaf blowers. It goes into effect on July 1, 2024, and will run through the end of 2026. 

The law applies to all private, commercial, and government property in the country. However, there are some exceptions. 

Two areas excluded are public grounds and farms of agricultural producers. There also are exceptions for use in Montgomery parks, because they are managed by the state of Maryland. 

To ensure that residents and business owners understand the new law, the county Department of Environment Protection has made information available. This includes what the law covers, as well as the rebate program. They also have been meeting with community organizations and professional landscapers to ensure people have a full understanding of the new Montgomery County gas blower regulations.  

Learn More About Environmental Laws in Bethesda, MD

Now that you understand the reasoning behind leaf blower bans and the details of Montgomery County’s gas blower bann, you can proceed accordingly. Hiring a reputable local landscaping company can ensure regulatory compliance so that you do not have to worry about fines. 

We hope you found this information on landscaping equipment regulations in Bethesda and Rockville helpful. BAM’s Landscaping is Montgomery County’s leading lawn care and landscaping company. Our goal is complete client satisfaction, and we take pride in cultivating long-term connections with customers. Reach out to us today to schedule service. 

(240) 447-5921