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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.
Electric mowers don't totally eliminate pollution, however emissions from the electric industry are more regulated and are not in your backyard. Also they save on gas spills and gas refinery and transportation. To achieve a net environmental savings from switching from gas to electric mowers depends on the efficiency of the power plant from where the electricity originates. Only reel mowers have a 0 carbon footprint. This is why we still prefer reel mowers to all other types of mowers, and electric reel mowers which can have an electric kick for those days when the lawn is longer or your time is shorter.
Fact: According to the EPA, one gas mower spews 88 lbs. of the greenhouse gas CO2, and 34 lbs. of other pollutants into the air every year.
Fact: Over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment – more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
Ozone Alert Days
Since this equipment is used mostly during the hot summer months, when ground level ozone is the highest, it causes problems for asthmatics and aggravates other respiratory conditions. When weather forecasts indicate ground-level ozone (the main component of smog)
could reach an unhealthy level, environmental agencies will call an Ozone Action Day. Standard ozone alert day advice is to delay or curtail all gas mowing.
Using a push mower instead of a power mower helps to reduce CO2 by over 80 lbs. a year according to the EPA.
From the easy to the ambitious, there are numerous actions you can take to reduce your energy consumption and fight global warming. By taking any of the following actions, you are helping to clean up our atmosphere.
EPA statistics for Replacing Gas Power Lawn Mowers
Statistics for Gas Power Lawn Mowers
Well over 5 million gas powered mowers are still sold in the U.S. every year. A typical gas mower, for instance, can emit the same amount of VOCs and NOx -- key precursors to smog -- in an hour as a typical car driven 45 miles, according to the EPA.
The replacement of every 500 gas mowers with non-motorized mowers would spare the air