City pushes electric mowers to improve air quality

Cleveland and Akron are taking action to reduce pollutants because they’re under the microscope. Rubens, Yoka and their counterparts in Columbus and Cincinnati have been approached by state regulators in 2021 — ahead of a major federal air quality compliance test taking place this year — to submit a plan. pollution reduction. Major metropolitan areas in Ohio were expected to fail the ozone test at the time.

“We have made great progress since the start of the EPA,” said Rubens. “Carbon monoxide (CO) is down 70%. Lead, unless there is a specific source like a smelter, doesn’t float like it did when we had lead gas.

Although ozone is still a concern, the science of detection has improved in the decades since, with research into how the concentrations of compounds in industry and in vehicles, breathed into the lungs, cause health problems such as asthma and high blood levels of lead and mercury.

“In the 1990s, science showed that it was not an hour-long concentration (of pollutants) that was the most dangerous; it was a longer, lower concentration,” Rubens said when explaining the National Air Quality Standard. “The standard has changed because science has proven that longer exposure is a dangerous thing.”

While the EPA effectively targeted and cleaned up what came out of smokestacks, emissions from driving, trucking, construction sites and landscaping increased as regions expanded eastward. outside.

Currently, 35% of regulated air pollutants (not including carbon dioxide) in the United States come from motor vehicles, Rubens says, both those that drive on the roads and those, like lawn mowers, that don’t. do not. By comparison, industry produces 30% of air pollutants. The rest comes from general “local” sources, such as paint fumes released during the application of coatings or the manufacture of paints and solvents.

“The (lawnmower exchange is) understanding that industry is not the primary driver of pollution,” Rubens said, adding, “Individual actions can aggregate to collective action. My buy a hybrid or battery-powered mower won’t make an impact, but together we can make an impact.

Summit County gave away 88 gift cards for battery-powered mowers in 2020 and another 100 in 2021, removing 2.5 tons of pollutants, Rubens said, adding the program costs $10,000 a year. Although eliminating 1.25 tonnes of pollution each year is a small number, Summit has been encouraged by demand and has increased its offering to 200 gift cards this year. Additionally, the Summit program has inspired Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo to follow suit.

“We got involved with the EPA and NOACA looking at broad issues for voluntary programs that could be implemented and that’s how the lawn mower rebate was born,” Yoka said. “It’s part of a larger push toward cleaner vehicles, vehicle electrification, that the city of Cleveland is pursuing.”

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