Gas-powered leaf blowers are indeed bad. But the problem runs deeper. In fact, all small gasoline engines — used in things like weed whackers, lawn mowers, tillers, and so forth — are astoundingly filthy and should be phased out as soon as possible. It’s time to electrify all lawn equipment.
The problem with small engines is that they generally have a primitive design and little or no emissions control technology. And with people fueling their small tanks with jerry cans, they also tend to lead to lots of spills. While cars and trucks have leaped ahead with catalytic converters, advanced combustion techniques, and computer-controlled fuel injection, small engines are still using technology that was outdated in the 1960s. Worst of all are two-stroke engines, which require oil to be mixed in with the fuel, about a third of which is forced out the exhaust instead of being burned, and so produce immense pollution as a basic function of operating.