A 2017 study published in the Journal of Environmental and Toxicological Studies found the sound emitted from commercial leaf blowers is a low frequency noise that persists at high levels for about 800 feet from the source. Low frequency noise can penetrate building walls and is not tolerated well by humans. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

The science behind why leaf blowers are so irritating

The low frequency emitted can penetrate walls

There’s something about leaf blowers that’s just irritating. The noise gets under your skin and there’s seems to be no way of escaping it until the machine is turned off and put away.

Many can attest to the annoyance that comes from the machine’s use in the summer months, but there’s actually a scientific reason as to why commercial leaf blowers have been described as intolerable.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Environmental and Toxicological Studies found the sound emitted from commercial leaf blowers is a low frequency noise that persists at high levels for about 800 feet from the source.

READ ALSO: Noisy leaf blowers Oak Bay resident’s bane

According to the study, low frequency sound travels over long distances and penetrates walls and windows.

Manufacturers report the sound levels from leaf blowers exceed 95 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) at the ear of the operator and typically 65-80 dB(A) at 50 feet.

“Comparing these levels to daytime sound standards set by the World Health Organization — these levels are upwards of 15 dB(A) higher than the recommended 55 dB(A),” states the study.

READ ALSO: Labour-saving machines bound to create noise

The dB(A) is the standard way manufacturers rate the sound of their equipment and is used to set regulatory policy. What’s interesting is that when in comes to describing the impact of sound that contains a strong low frequency — as leaf blowers do — both the International Institute for Noise Control Engineering and the National Academy of Engineering have said dB(A) is not a sufficient way of measuring.

Another study coming out of Finland in 2004 examined the tonal components of nine leaf blowers and found that the low frequency sound coming from them can penetrate outside walls and is not tolerated well by humans.

According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals a 25-year-old land care worker regularly exposed to occupational noise without hearing protection may have the same hearing as a 50-year-old who is not exposed.

While no municipality in the CRD is currently looking to ban the machines, other communities such as Westmount in Montreal have imposed a partial ban only allowing the use of leaf blowers in April, October and the first half of November.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive again on Oct. 21 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search continues for bear wandering through Saanich

Bear spotted eating garbage near Elk Lake Wednesday, B.C. Conservation says

Some 30 people including a dozen youth participated in North Saanich’s first ever Fridays for Future protest outside of municipal hall on Mills Road Friday, according to organizers. (Anne-Marie Daniel/Submitted)
Fridays for Future plans second event for North Saanich after inaugural protest

Some 30 people attended first protest on Oct. 9 with a second one scheduled for Oct. 23

Royal Bay students are among the list of SD62 schools that will be trained by Pacific FC coaches and staff in a new soccer academy partnership. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Pacific FC partners with Sooke School District soccer academies

Royal Bay, EMCS and Dunsmuir Middle students to receive professional training

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read