Reports about those noxious fumes emitted from gasoline lawn mowers are indeed true. A Swedish study conducted in 2001 concluded, “Air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100-mile automobile ride.” Meanwhile, the 54 million Americans mowing their lawns each weekend with gas-powered mowers may be contributing as much as five percent of the nation’s air pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Small Engines Lead to Big Pollution Problems
The problem is that small engines emit disproportionately large amounts of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog. The human health effects of smog-laden air are well known, and include inflammation and damage to lungs, increased risk of asthma attacks, and lowered levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, which can aggravate heart conditions.

New Standards Expected to Reduce Mower Emissions
Fortunately, the EPA is now phasing in new emissions standards for gas mower engines that will result in a 32 percent smog reduction for all models made starting in 2007.  And with even more stringent standards slated to go into effect soon in California, environmental leaders are hoping that the old adage for automobile trends (“as goes California, so goes the nation”) will soon apply to lawn mowers too.

Electric Lawn Mowers
But even with such progress, gas power is not the only option. Eco-conscious consumers looking for a new mower should consider, among other options, any of the electric models now available.

The easy part is the price, as many models cost less than $200. The trade-off is that they only work for small lawns and must be tethered to a power outlet during use. Also, going electric is not necessarily a way to reduce pollution overall. According to Consumer Reports, “Achieving a net environmental savings from switching to electric mowers depends on the efficiency of the power plant” from where the electricity originates.  If its a coal powered plant generating the electricity the electric mower option may be just as bad as using a gas powered mower.

For more info on going green and artificial grass installation with you lawn mowers check out our next post.