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Mow down air pollution: Trade in your gas-powered lawn mower

ElectriclawnmowerVehicles get most of the attention when it comes to air pollution, but a single gas-powered lawn mower used 45 minutes each week for a year is equal to driving 22,000 miles in a new passenger car, according to the Air Quality Management District, the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of the L.A. area.

To combat those emissions, the AQMD runs an annual Lawn Mower Exchange that allows Southern California residents to trade their gas mowers for electric ones at a price significantly lower than retail. The gas mowers are scrapped through a local metal recycler.

Now in its ninth year, the AQMD Lawn Mower Exchange will offer five different types of electric mowers priced from $100 to $230. In total, 6,600 electric mowers will be made available. Interested residents just need to make a reservation

The Lawn Mower Exchange kicks off Saturday in Palm Desert. Weekly events continue through July 23 with exchanges in Long Beach, Inglewood, Riverside, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Northridge and Anaheim.

AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood said the air pollution benefits of electric mowers aren't only for the general public.

"Anytime you use a gas mower, you're smelling those emissions and breathing that air pollution into your lungs," Atwood said. "Using an electric mower eliminates personal exposure to lawn mower emissions."


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-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: An electric lawnmower being offered at the Air Quality Management District Lawn Mower Exchange. Credit: Black & Decker

Comments () | Archives (8)

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The facts and numbers presented here are not clear. There is more than one kind of air pollution created by the internal combustion engine ...

For instance:

22,000 miles at 22 miles per gallon of gas gives 1,000 gallons of gasoline. One gallon of gas burnt in a car makes about 20 pounds of CO2. So, are we to think that the lawnmower could produce more than 1,000 x 20 (20,000 pounds) of CO2, or more particulate matter, or more unburnt hydrocarbons (likely)?

Please clarify.


I'm going to pick-up my riding gas mower, blower and edger in Las Vegas and drop it off at my parents. Anybody want to go with me?

Screw the AQMD and the nanny state.

electric, what about the batteries?..also battery electric mowers are under powered and the type with cords are a pain to use, what if you have a big yard or a lot of tough spots to access?...I don't believe the claims about pollution, they're lies, you can't tell me using a mower that burns about 16 ounces at most a week is like a car burning 20 gallons of fuel, the car is using at least 160 times as much fuel!...

If the lawn isn't huge, get a manual ('Armstrong power') lawnmower. It's quiet, and it's probably less polluting than either an electric or a gas mower. No cords, no batteries, and no fuel tank.

Thanks for information

I purchased an Epic EP21H electric mower last year, and I'm pretty happy with it. You can buy a solar panel with it, but I had my own panels already, so I charge the batteries from them, and I have a totally solar powered mower. It works well , and runs longer than you might think. Here in Maryland, my lawn is usually pretty long, but it powers right through. It's self-propelled, as well. I bought it, since my gas mower was producing a nasty grey cloud whenever I started it up, and I just didn't like the idea of burning $3 gas (last summer!) to cut the grass.

I wish we had a mower exchange program here, you guys are pretty lucky. As it was, I bought it on Amazon, since they had free shipping. The price has dropped since I bought mine, too.

Let's be clear what they're talking about with "emissions" here, since in these days of concern about the climate, people might think they're talking about greenhouse gases.

These high emissions from lawnmowers are just for particles and other old-school air pollution—the kinds that cause smog, asthma, and so on.

But this does not include greenhouse gases; you burn much, much less gasoline running a small lawnmower engine for 45 minutes each week for a year than you do driving a car 22,000 miles.

The reason for the big difference in old-school pollution, as far as I know, is because lawnmowers lack catalytic converters, a key piece of equipment that is on cars in the U.S. and helps get rid of a lot of pollution. But catalytic converters do little or nothing for greenhouse gas emissions, so those emissions are pretty closely tied to the raw amount of gasoline you burn.

Here's more on lawnmowers and catalytic converters:

no thanks, for one i do not believe that my lawn mower contributes to "smog" and i dont even believe in global warming. thirdly i like the freedom that a gasoline powered mower provides without constantly having to know where the power cord is so you dont run over it. This is why a hate using a vacuum cleaner.


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