Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

Do Not Use Leaf Blowers title=
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers
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Source: Air Pollution Control District

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District remind the community that leaf blowers should not be used while there are large amounts of ash in our environment, as this could result in a violation of Air Pollution Control District regulations and endanger health. All county residents are encouraged to be good neighbors and not use leaf blowers. The Air Pollution Control District can take enforcement action against any person who uses a leaf blower in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire where a threat to public health in violation of state law and District regulations is determined.

Using leaf blowers on fire ash can harm public health. Substantial amounts of ash have fallen as a result of the Thomas Fire. Larger ash particles can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Over time, ash particles break down into smaller, more harmful particles that can lodge deep into our lungs, causing serious health effects including aggravated asthma, bronchitis, and lung damage; the particles are also small enough to get into our bloodstream and affect our heart health. Using leaf blowers stirs up the particles and can contribute to large particles becoming smaller, hazardous particles.

Ash clean-up is not advised when the outdoor air quality is unhealthy. Windy conditions in the forecast have the potential to stir up ash and affect air quality; keep your N95 mask on hand and check hourly air quality conditions at If air quality conditions allow, the following is recommended for safe clean-up. Note: clean-up should never be done by people who have lung or heart conditions.

  • Ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.
  • Use protective wear. Wear a tight-fitting N95 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when cleaning up ash. 
  • Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Avoid sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or mop to clean items and surfaces.



  • Sweep gently with a push broom, then hose lightly with water. Take care to conserve water. Ash can be bagged and put into trash cans.
  • Using a shop vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) and a disposable filter bag.


*Spanish version available at

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ljmdance Dec 24, 2017 12:26 PM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

Leafblowers should be banned. Period. Rake. Sweep. Vacuum.

SBZZ Dec 22, 2017 09:46 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

Bookman, you are correct and I agree with you. The "or to the public" clause gives the APCD plenty of leeway to regulate just about any air pollution source. But in regards to ash-generating street sweepers, etc., apparently they have better things to do.

a-1513962481 Dec 22, 2017 09:08 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

The sky is falling, the sky is falling...we are running around like Chicken Little. Really people get a grip. Ash is a natural product that has been in our environment for eons. We tolerate chemical fertilizers and bug sprays and bio-engineered fish and all sorts of more modern Frankensteinian threats which seem to me to be more likely to harm us.

SBZZ Dec 21, 2017 05:59 PM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

There does seem to be a bit of a conflict between the APCD posting and what Rex cited from Nextdoor. I believe they could use Nuisance Rule 303 to enforce such an emissions source. But to do requires that several people first complain to the District about the source. The rule says in so many words do not emit air contaminants that will cause harm "to any considerable number of persons or to the public". Maybe the reason why they could not enforce the leaf blower is because not enough people complained about it. I think the APCD should get back to us and explain what mechanism they would use enforce such a situation and under what regulation.

biguglystick Dec 22, 2017 11:43 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

I don't actually know why. Can you enlighten me please?

biguglystick Dec 22, 2017 11:42 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

Why is that? I don't know why. Enlighten me please.

bookman Dec 22, 2017 09:10 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

In my opinion, the reason the APCD doesn't actively enforce Rule 303 is that they look for any excuse NOT to enforce it. The handy excuse to not enforce lies in the language of the rule that can be read to require a "considerable number of persons" to complain while, at the same time, ignoring the subsequent phrase "...or to the public." The two-cycle engines that power most commercial leaf blowers are inherently a "public nuisance" because of the negative health effects of the nasty pollutants they push into the air. Any public official who wanted to enforce the clear intent of the law would rely upon the second definition as the "prima facie" enforcement tool. The chief officer of the APCD, a Mrs. Genet(?), chooses to do otherwise, and apparently feels no need to respond to my message asking why. So much for "public servants."

a-1513913611 Dec 21, 2017 07:33 PM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

We all know why the leaf blower ordinance is not being enforced. No need to spell it out.

CivilEngineer Dec 21, 2017 03:51 PM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

Typical overreach by a government agency to scare us into following their edicts. Probably the only people scared are the ones who would have not used a leaf blower anyway. The landscapers using them are too busy to read websites with scary threats that are not backed up.

I have pavers with large joints in my backyard and none of the tools I have currently will remove the ash. On the sidewalks in front of the house I have swept up the ash and disposed of it. I wish other people would do the same as many sidewalks are still coated with ash. I've been walking my dogs in the streets as the ash is blown by passing cars and also partially removed by the street sweepers.

Whether people use leafblowers or not, we will be dealing with this ash until we get a strong northwest wind or a good rain.

a-1513878394 Dec 21, 2017 09:46 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

I used an old vacuum I had in the garage. It has a hepa filter. Did the walkway, sidewalk and driveway. What a difference it made. Very, very little ash went into the planter. Used a car duster that picks up the dust and then a damp rag. Worked really well.

mattyboy Dec 21, 2017 09:19 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

I don't use a leaf blower, but if I did I wouldn't be afraid of any kind of enforcement considering the city has been completely limp on this "law" since inception.

Joe G Dec 21, 2017 04:54 PM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

You are correct that the city has been limp on this law, but that needs to change. In a city that bans plastic bags and outdoor cigarette smoke, it's ludicrous that city government turns a blind eye to gas powered gross polluters (aka leafblowers).

REX OF SB Dec 21, 2017 09:17 AM
Do Not Use Leaf Blowers

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM A POSTING IN TODAY'S "NEXTDOOR, WESTSIDE" SITE. I FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING. ———— "The APCD needs to get it's story straight! When I recently filed a complaint about an individual using a leaf blower to blow ashes off her property, the inspector, Brian and his supervisor, Eric, both clearly stated that while their agency had regulations about such matters, "THE AGENCY HAD NO ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY" and referred me to the SBPD!! And to make the matter worse, when the police came out to the site of the violation, they too said they had no authority to cite the individual!

The APCD's message to the community has been conflicted and muddied as evidenced by their egregious flip-flop on street sweeping. No wonder citizens are confused about what the best practices are in dealing with the ash debris all around us."

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