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Leaf blowers blown away

Marblehead resident Beth Grader has spent the last 10 years focusing on the goal to get Marblehead to impose a seasonal break from leaf blowers. As of May, this goal has been achieved.

Article 31, which states that the use of gas powered leaf blowers will be prohibited from Memorial Day to Labor Day, was passed by Townb Meeting with 254 voting in favor and 202 voting against.

“I have spoken with garden clubs, I’ve researched the noise effect on residents and on the workers. I have talked to numerous people about the pollution and the issues with the emissions themselves,” Grader said. “I was able to convince enough people in town through education and through communication that we need to do something.”

It started with creating a citizens group back in 2012 for those who also wanted this break on leaf blowers to happen. Since then, she has been sponsoring articles, or has been part of groups that sponsored the articles, that prevent gas powered leaf blower use in summer months.

“Many years ago, my original concern was the noise,” Grader said. “I have a beautiful garden with a little waterfall, and frogs and kind of a special place for birds and a very quiet place … and it got to the point where I couldn’t hear the birds nor the waterfall most days when my neighbors were all using leaf blowers. So the sound bothered me.”

She began researching gas-powered leaf blowers and found that they are really bad for the environment, so the pollution aspect became part of the push for the break. Eventually, she also discovered how bad they are for landscape workers.

“I found that workers are the ones that are more at risk than I am. I also had a small business, a landscape business, and I would never have allowed my workers to do that for eight hours because the machines are so unhealthy,” Grader said.

Others joined the fight for the seasonal break over the years such as Rita March. March said leaves became a “polarizing subject” and the new article is a “compromise.”

“A break in the summer will eliminate the sound of the leaf blower which produces a penetrating vibration that moves thru walls that can irritate people who are trying to focus on work, sleep during the day and exacerbate respiratory and emotional health issues of those who are sensitive,” March said. “Some noise we can not prevent but this is a noise that can be mitigated at least for a few months in the summer.”

Since it has passed, Grader is “very pleased” the town has decided to take the break on gas powered leaf blowers.

“[We’ll] see if people can become healthier and the land can become healthier for just two or three months in the summer,” Grader said.