Why Do People Find Leaf Blowers So Irritating?

Ah, the sounds of autumn. For some, they’re so satisfying — a bite into a crisp apple, the crunch of fallen leaves. For others, the sounds set their teeth on edge, especially when it comes to leaf blowers. Leaf blowers are gardening tools ratcheted up to 11. Unlike lawn mowers, leaf blowers are probably the most villainized devices in the lawn care universe. Not only are they noisy and now used year-round, but for many, the level of noise they emit is unacceptable. In the mid-1970s, the California cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Beverly Hills labeled the leaf blowers a noise nuisance and banned their use. Since then, other cities in other states have followed suit. When you engage in conversation, you're exposed to a noise level of about 60 decibels. If you’re strolling on a sidewalk and a car drives by, the noise registers at about 70 decibels. A leaf blower, even at 50 feet away, can be up to 75 decibels — and that can wreak havoc on your hearing. Any noise above 75 decibels risks causing hearing damage. This is true of people who use leaf blowers, which can reach decibels well into the 90s and above up close, as well as people who hear them by being in proximity. Unfortunately, leaf blowers are an integral part of most lawn care services, so don't expect the noise to abate in most places any time soon. While leaf blowers may sound like fingernails across a chalkboard to you, for the businesses that rely on them for a portion of their livelihood, it's music to their ears.