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Rake (don't blow) the leaves this fall

Put away noisy and polluting leaf blowers and rake the yard by hand. It makes for a lovely autumn workout!
Put away the blower or lawn mower, and rake up those leaves by hand. It's much better for you and the environment. Photo supplied.

What’s the most absurd image of healthy living? It’s a picture of someone using a leaf blower to clean up leaves in the yard while wearing ear protection, and a mask covering the nose and mouth. The only thing that makes good sense is the mask.

It’s the leaf blower that is most offensive.

The first offence is the condoning of laziness. A leaf blower eliminates the physical effort needed to clean up the leaves. In the past, we may have looked upon this as a good thing. Less work equals better life. False!

Raking up leaves offers a cardio workout, in the lovely outdoors, resulting in the satisfaction of a job well done. It’s exercise that can be self-paced. The twisting and bending are nothing but good!

The second is environmental. Gas-powered leaf blowers spew pollutants at astounding rates. A reporter once calculated the “hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska.” Gulp.

How about noise pollution? These machines can produce levels between 80-92 decibels (dB), and sometimes over 100 dB for the operators. At a distance of the length of a semi-truck trailer, the noise can still measure over 70 dB. No wonder neighbours get annoyed.

Leaf blowers are banned in some cities and subject to increasing regulation across North America. But the pace of lawmaking is slow.

Fallen autumn leaves can be a haven for molds, pollen, and weeds that cause allergies. The plentiful fall pollen of ragweed, for example, travels far and can settle on all those leaves. Leaves dampened by rain or morning dew become a haven for mold. Raking up the leaves can send pollen and mold spores into the air, causing aggravation for asthma sufferers.

Dr. Purvi Parikh is an allergist and spokesperson with the Allergy and Asthma Network. “Most people associate allergies with spring, and often fall allergies get mistaken for viruses and other infections due to weather getting cold,” she said. The distinguishing feature of an allergy is that it does not cause a fever. However, if an allergy leads to a sinus infection, a fever can result.

One more thought about those leaves. They are full of nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These are the ingredients for healthy soil needed by productive gardens, beautiful landscapes, and all the grasses that are home and sources of food to diverse wildlife.

To see the picture of good health, look at those falling leaves with anticipation and admiration, not dread. The rake, a pair of gloves, and maybe a mask are the items to use this fall when tidying up the yard.

Remember moderation too. Raking leaves can be just as strenuous as shoveling snow. And that’s the next thing!

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