Is Moriarty Funeral Home intent on killing us all so the owner has more business? On a rainy Thursday morning, four toxic gas-powered leaf blowers have been running for more than one hour — starting at 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than Montclair's regulations on leaf blower use allow, pointing these toxic machines at a wet, clean paved parking lot. Nary a leaf to be seen.

Cars have evolved to reduce noise and air pollution, yet this gas-powered left blowers remain intent on destroying our health and quality of life.

These machines emit high levels of ozone-forming and cancer-causing compounds. According to 2020 web post by Washington University in St. Louis on sustainability efforts, “Many consumer-grade blowers (and some mowers) use a two-stroke engine, which lacks an independent lubrication system, so fuel has to be mixed with oil. Burning oil and fuel emits a number of harmful toxic pollutants into the air, including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides (which cause smog formation and acid rain), and hydrocarbons (a carcinogenic gas that also causes smog).”

The post continues: “The number of air pollutants emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers exceed pollutant emissions of large automobiles, which are regulated to reduce and capture many air pollutants. A 2011 study showed that a leaf blower emits nearly 300 times the amount of air pollutants as a pickup truck.”

The particulate matter takes days to settle and precipitates asthma attacks, exacerbates allergies, and can cause lung cancer. Other health risks include cardiovascular disease, various cancers, lung disease and dementia. Not to mention hearing loss. According to a 2017 edition of the Centers for Disease Control's Vital Signs report, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States, and “being around loud noises like using a leaf blower can cause permanent hearing loss.”

Opportunities exist for quieter methods of landscaping. Battery-powered and electric leaf blowers have been upgraded to effectively remove this apparently invasive natural detritus, such as leaves, grass, and dirt. Thus, precious Montclair residents, please consider a newer, cleaner mode of landscaping. You can still eradicate that offensive blade of grass on your driveway or the panoply of colorful leaves ruining your perfectly sterile acre(s) of lawn —without disturbing your neighbors.

Judith Antelman

Editor's note: Montclair Township officials confirmed that on Thursday, March 24, the township's code enforcement office issued a violation regarding leaf blowers allegedly being used before 9 a.m. at Moriarty Funeral Home. Workers complied when they were told they could not use the blowers until 9 a.m., township officials said.

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Moriarty.

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