A letter from Steven Dailey of Sacramento opposing leafblowers. Steven is principal of SDA - Landscape Architecture, Planning and Urban Design.

In opposition to the inane support of the hated leafblower, please let me add the following fuel to the fire. The argument most often made against leafblowers is that they are noisy and intrusive - disruptive of a sane and peaceful quiet, potentially damaging to human hearing and mentally irritating to an unusual degree, thereby contributing to the stress levels of us all. And so they are.

And yet, I am surprised that so few arguments challenge other significant negatives of these mechanical demons which bedevil our daily existence. Although being assaulted by the malignant whine of a leafblower in the hands of an ear-plugged, face-masked, dirt-mongering hominoid - blissfully unaware of the malaise created by his skirmish - may be strong grounds for a temporary insanity plea should the victim irrationally attack or even kill the pitiless operator (personally, I just turn the hose on them whenever possible), noise pollution is merely the most obvious fault of this offensive implement of despoliation.

Air pollution is an equally vile attribute of this "labor-saving" contrivance. The leafblower, in most cases, and certainly in all commercial cases, is powered by a small, fuel combustion engine. These engines, operating without emission control devices, are well documented for their contribution to excessive levels of air pollution. In the central valley, which is geographically poised to produce intolerable levels of smog, the unregulated use of small, fuel combustion engines is irresponsible at best.

In addition, in a Mediterranean climate such as California's central valley where moisture is absent for 6 to 7 month periods, a single leafblower can infuse the air with many pounds of dry dust, pollens and detritus per hour. These agitated, airborne particles slowly filter down into fine layers of dust on cars, on windows, on house exteriors, on plants. Or they filter down through open windows into our homes and apartments, or worst of all into our most personal space - our lungs - mobilized irritants, directly attacking those of us with allergic or asthmatic conditions. It is misfortune enough that the central valley has such a large natural concentration of pollens, but to knowingly stir them up on a perpetual basis is imprudent in the extreme.

The great irony behind all of this is that the leafblower was devised to assist in the maintenance of our landscaped space. As a Landscape Architect, I can assure you that its usefulness is limited indeed. Leaves, twigs, bark, nuts, flower, fruit, pollen, animal and insect waste all contribute to the parent material which decomposes to form healthy and usable topsoil in our gardens. This continual soil building process is necessary to sustain the health of all living, growing things. The leafblower indiscriminately removes all friable topsoil, parent "litter" and mulch leaving only the hard-packed subsoils. True gardeners won't use them. As a culture, we spend millions annually to replenish what we have removed from the earth, in the form of manufactured mulches and fertilizers.

The anal-obsessive removal of this natural soil "litter" via leafblowers demonstrates a remarkable, institutionalized ignorance of natural systems and an equally shameful insensitivity to quality of life. The slothful attitudes which choose to conveniently scrape the ground barren of its richness in favor of a sterile, visual "tidyness", illustrate how distorted our ideas of the natural world and human benefit truly are.

Last time anybody checked, we were all still air and water exchange systems. As I am sure you wouldn't relinquish your right to drink clean water, please don't relinquish your right to breathe clean air. Leafblowers eradicate the peace, the freshness of the air, the richness of the soil. Eradicate the leafblower and save yourself some stress.

Steven Dailey