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The answer, my friend, to better air quality is blowing in the wind
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It is a scene that happens dozens of times – if not more – each day in Manteca.

Leaf blowers are revved up to move everything from lawn clippings and leaves to dirt.

It is one of the most insane things we do to damage our health and to essentially burn fossil fuel to accomplish very little.

If you doubt that, take a look at most folks who use leaf blowers. They simply blow the debris into the street to scatter to the four winds. They rarely get it in a pile and pick it up.

The yard debris either goes into a neighbor’s yard or ultimately drifts back into the yard it came from.

In essence, they clean up their space for a short time while messing up the rest of the neighborhood. In turn, someone else down the street returns the favor and blows stuff back to the original offender. There is a whole cottage industry built around simply blowing debris around and not actually cleaning it up.

At the same time leaf blowers – gas and electric – create particulate matter pollution. The two-stroke gas powered leaf blowers spew off more emissions into the ozone than lawn mowers do and for what? The debris they blow is rarely picked up but everyone gets to enjoy worse air quality. One leaf blower may not seem like a big deal but multiply it by hundreds of thousands each week in the San Joaquin Valley.

Nobody wants to deny anyone the right to do as they please unless, of course, it clearly has a negative impact on others. One of the functions of government in a civilized society where people are living close to each other is to have reasonable regulations that establish the common good.

Perhaps outright banning the use of leaf blowers may not be something government should pursue but it does seem nonsensical when brooms and rakes accomplish the same thing with a lot less pollution. And you can’t even use the argument that leaf blowers are more efficient and effective at cleaning up messes since most people use them to simply disperse debris off their property or into the street.

The San Joaquin Valley is facing a serious challenge when it comes to air quality. While federal government standards are draconian, it does make sense for all of us to do what we can to ease air pollution.

There needs to be a ban on any new fireplaces than are designed to burn wood from being built as part of homes in the San Joaquin Valley. Currently the rule allows for no more than two homes per acre that can have fireplaces and now more than one fireplace per home. It needs to be a complete ban.

We also keep approving new businesses with drive-thru windows.

They aren’t “gross polluters” per se if there is no line and you can zip right through, but once vehicles start stacking up the idling becomes a big source of emissions into the atmosphere.

Simply parking the car and going inside the restaurant and the restarting it when you have your order puts out less air pollution. Besides, most of us are ambulatory and could use the exercise.

Much of what we can do to improve air quality is – and always has been – behavioral modification.

If you do not believe you have a moral obligation to the human race to reduce your proverbial carbon footprint, then you should spend a day breathing in Bakersfield or Fresno.

Hazy days are the norm. And a large chunk of it is thanks to air pollution that flows south into the gigantic bowl we live in not just from the Bay Area but from those living in the northern end of the valley. Their air pollution is partially our air pollution. We just happen to live where the prevailing winds make life tolerable when we use things such as leaf blowers that help compromise air quality with little – if anything – to show for it.