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Cleaner Air

Perhaps you are asking, "What does gardening have to do with cleaner air?" That's a good question, and the answer is not a completely obvious one. Of course you already know that grass, trees and plants create oxygen, so you're helping that way. But there is much more to it than that.

Although things like gasoline powered leaf blowers, tillers, chainsaws and lawn mowers have very small engines and use very little gas to operate, they create a large amount of air pollution compared to automobiles. That is because automobiles have sophisticated emissions systems that clean the exhaust before it goes out of the tailpipe.

Small engines do not have such sophisticated emissions systems, because it would make them too big, too heavy and too expensive. As a result, they create a lot more air pollution even though they are very small.

How much air pollution can a small engine create? Well, it depends a lot upon how new the item is, because newer small engines have improved a bit over the past few years due to CARB specifications (a California air standard that affects the rest of the country).

But sources show that an older typical gas mower can cause as much air pollution as 73 new automobiles. Running one commercial chainsaw for two hours can create as much pollution as driving 10 cars 250 miles each!

A more recent Wall Street Journal article from March 30, 2006 said, "Currently, there are 52 million residential and commercial mowers (both the ones you push and the ones you ride) and other large lawn equipment that the EPA estimates are in use nationwide. Such lawn equipment is operated about three billion hours a year, the agency says, and a typical push mower emits as much hourly pollution as 11 cars, with a riding mower emitting as much as 34 cars."

As you can see, you can make a huge impact on reducing air pollution by using manual or electric lawn and garden tools!

Want to do even more for cleaner air? Here's a list of 50 things you can do to help.

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