Portland’s government is getting rid of its stock of roughly 300 gasoline-powered leaf blowers, which city leaders say are a menace to both the environment and the eardrums of the operators.

City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees Portland’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation, introduced a resolution that would have the city transition to quieter, electric models by the beginning of 2021.

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Fish said the city’s current stock of leaf blowers, spread out over five bureaus, has been proven to be a significant air quality polluter. Many of the machines use an inefficient two-stroke engine, which spews toxic pollutants like carbon monoxide and carcinogenic hydrocarbons.

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A 2011 study cited by Fish found that using a two-stroke blower for half an hour emitted the same amount of pollutants as driving nearly 4,000 miles in a Ford pick-up truck.

And, of course, they’re noisy. Noise levels for those holding the machines can reach a painful 112 decibels. A jet plane taking off is about 120 decibels.

The directive approved by City Council would only apply to the city’s stock — not private residents. But some commissioners expressed interest in one day working toward a more all-encompassing ban, which has been adopted by many major cities including Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

“I’m hoping this policy, while it only addresses city bureaus, I hope it will lead to a citywide ban,” said City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly echoed the sentiment.

Asena Lawrence, Fish’s senior policy director, said the city will form a working group early in the new year to consider how to start transitioning more of the city toward environmentally-friendly leaf blowers.

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