Monday, April 24, 2006

Lawn mowers & pollution

Gasoline lawn mowers are big polluters.

Gallon for gallon -- or, given the size of lawnmower tanks, quart for quart -- the 2006 lawn mower engines contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than 2006 cars, according to the California Air Resources Board. In California, lawn mowers provided more than 2 percent of the smog-forming pollution from all engines. (NY Times)

Adding a golf-ball-sized catalytic converter would drastically cut emissions and add, maybe, $20-25 to the cost of a mower. In California this would be like taking 800,000 cars off the road. But manufacturers are opposed. Why?

Briggs and some other American equipment makers argue that the converters could add a dangerous amount of heat to already hot engines, creating a fire hazard.

The opinions on this is mixed. And it's the same argument used against adding converters to automobiles, yet we've somehow worked around the fire hazard there.

tightening small-engine standards nationally would take 1,750 jobs from [Wisconsin] and send them to China.

Nonsense. Everyone selling machines in this country would have to comply, including the Chinese. It would be a level playing field.

Of course, given America's problem with obesity and importing foreign oil, perhaps this would be a good time to plug old-fashioned push reel mowers?


Eric said...

I find the Times data a little hard to believe. It's not that I doubt that lawnmowers are bigger polluters than cars... I'm sure they are. But there isn't a literal line of mowers stretched out on the freeway twice a day, every day in SoCal. Just do the math as consumption of combustibles. How much gasoline is used daily by mowers.... now cars. You can remove the carbon from the air, but it still goes somewhere. You might not pay for it right off, but you WILL pay for it at some point, even if it's just a filter sitting in a landfill.


Bruce Geerdes said...

I guess it comes down to how catalytic converters work. I don't quite understand it, but I take peoples' word for it that they work pretty good. ;)