You can help protect our essential workers and our air quality by talking to your landscaper

The recent renewed national focus on equity, as well as the multiple impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, have made it especially important to focus on protecting everyone’s health, especially the health of outdoor workers in our community.

During the summer months, when poor air quality already poses a health risk, the use of gas-powered lawn equipment for landscaping maintenance in general, and gas-powered leaf blowers in particular, makes the problem even worse. Lawn equipment and leaf blowers emit pollutants and fine particulates that are hazardous to human health and are often loud enough to damage the hearing of workers who are not adequately protected.

Homeowners and businesses that employ landscaping services can help by asking them to limit or discontinue the use of gas-powered leaf blowers or convert to electric or battery-powered equipment and to provide hearing protection for all workers. Cloth face coverings also may be of some respiratory protection, and, of course, should be available and worn when workers cannot maintain physical distancing from each other while working or traveling between work sites.

For a list of landscapers that use electric and battery-powered equipment and other less polluting and quieter methods, please visit www.quietprinceton.org and click on “quiet landscapers”.

Dr. George DiFerdinando, Jr. chair of the Princeton Board of Health

Sophie Glovier, Chair for the Princeton Environmental Commission

This letter was endorsed by both the Princeton Board of Health and the Princeton Environmental Commission at their July meetings.


  1. Will the landscaper be paid more though for hand-raking the leaves? Most of the landscapers in Princeton are on season-long contracts that start in spring and run through October and the entire crew via a company is paid $600 for the entire season.

    So 3-4 adults are doing the entire yard fro more than 6 months for $600. And often the homeowner paying the $600 is in a house work $1 to $2 million minimum.
    So we are talking about people who live in homes that sell for more than $1.2 million having weekly yard work done for more than 6 months by a crew of 3-4 adults for a total of $600 to the landscaping firm. This article does nothing to speak of a fair wage.
    It seems to say something like ask your brown slave to do more work for less money. Since most of the landscapers are non-white this is also racist the tones of these letters all over the town and the constant complaining are racist.
    Immigrants doing a roof in our town – btw roofing is more dangerous than policing in the U.S. – hardworking immigrants standing on a roof in our town in 100 degrees on a Sunday this summer get the police called on them regularly for working on Sundays…. This is not the function of police to harass roofers.
    It is not right to ask your slaves to do more for less, more quietly…

  2. To clarify my questioning of this…

    Will the quiet landscaping be more expensive? It seems like it will be. If it is more expensive, will the workers and companies who agree to do it be paid more? What is a fair wage in Princeton, NJ. Is it a living wage? What is it worth to the owner of the home or the complaining neighbor to have this done more quietly? Are they willing to pay the brown landscaper more for this more expensive work that may take longer? Landscaping services in Princeton are working quickly, very quickly, on flexible schedules so they show up at all times when they can because it is a volume business, a very, very low-margin, low-paid volume business … A high-volume, very low-paid business bc of low-cost immigrant labor… It is pretty shocking that this issue of the cost of these demands of the brown slave class has not even been addressed… A living wage for this work done more quietly, more cleaning it is a higher wage, no? $50 an hour per landscaper? Who is wiling to pay or be quiet? Who should be quiet? How much do the landscapers make? $6 an hour? There is still a ton of wage theft in Princeton. The way to solve it is not to report it to the gov but to make sure there are jobs that pay a living wage in Princeton, NJ which is say $50/hour… no? If you want your landscapers to work a different way why do you not pay for this or do the work yourselves?

  3. I have found that the suggestions from the Environmental Commission and the Board of Health can really work. I talked to my landscaper. I asked him to stop using leaf blowers but to continue mowing my lawn. He was happy to do this. No more leaf blower noise or pollution. I encouraged him to buy battery-powered equipment. He now mows my lawn with a battery-powered mower. Less noise and no pollution. He does most of the work himself, so I’m glad that he isn’t subjected to pollution and fine particulates because of me. And the battery-powered equipment is less expensive for him to run and maintain than gas-powered equipment. In the summer he mows and leaves the grass clippings on the lawn. In the fall he mows and mulches fallen leaves into the lawn. The grass clippings and mulched leaves nourish the lawn; they are good for the lawn. He charges me a small amount more in the fall because mulching leaves can require several passes of the mower. Otherwise his prices are the same as before. He’s happy, and I’m happy.

  4. I totally agree that our landscape workers (no matter what color they are) deserve to earn a decent wage. And if their customers live in houses that are worth $1 million plus, they should pay people appropriately.

    That being said, the health of our citizens and our planet should not be compromised. There are plenty of reliable statistics about fine particles in the air causing life threatening conditions, particularly for people with lung conditions, including covid 19. Also unburned gasoline released into the air contributes to pollution and global warming.

    I am delighted to see that our town agencies overseeing our health and the well-being of our environment are taking a stand, and hope that action follows quickly.

  5. The information provided by a broad range of studies documents that noise pollution and air pollution are obviously and seriously harmful to the environment and all living creatures in it. The elimination of gas-powered leaf blowers that cause demonstrable harm is something that a rational, caring community can accomplish swiftly and fairly. This would protect workers, who are at greatest risk from the hazards, and residents from a very real health threat that is relatively easy to eliminate. Especially in a time of COVID this is a crucial step for us to take together.

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