Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

June 10, 2012

Ozone Alert: Your neighbors’ lawnmowers are killing you today.

I went to NOAA.gov this morning to check the weather. There was a little note with a hyperlink stuck to my local forecast: “Hazardous Weather Conditions: Ozone Alert.”

THE MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY HAS
DECLARED SUNDAY...JUNE 10TH...TO BE AN ACTION DAY FOR
ELEVATED LEVELS OF OZONE. POLLUTANTS ARE EXPECTED TO BE IN THE
UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS RANGE.

THE ACTION DAY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE FOLLOWING MICHIGAN COUNTIES...

GENESEE...LAPEER...LENAWEE...LIVINGSTON...MACOMB...MONROE...
OAKLAND...SHIAWASSEE...ST CLAIR...WASHTENAW...AND WAYNE COUNTIES.

PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES ARE URGED TO AVOID ACTIVITIES WHICH LEAD
TO OZONE FORMATION. THESE ACTIVITIES INCLUDE...REFUELING VEHICLES
OR TOPPING OFF WHEN REFUELING...USING GASOLINE POWERED LAWN
EQUIPMENT...AND USING CHARCOAL LIGHTER FLUID. POSITIVE ACTIVITIES
INCLUDE...CAR POOLING...BIKING TO WORK...DELAYING OR COMBINING
ERRANDS AND USING WATER BASED PAINTS.

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ACTIVE CHILDREN AND ADULTS...AND PERSONS
WITH RESPIRATORY DISEASES SUCH AS ASTHMA...LIMIT PROLONGED
OUTDOOR EXERTION.

It’s remarkable that the Department of Environmental Quality is not blaming this toxic cloud on industry’s Satanic mills. This pollution is being done neighbor-to-neighbor, through cars, lawnmowers, paint, and grills. Somebody with asthma has to stay inside today for someone else to live the suburban dream of mowing the lawn, driving to the store and barbequing.

For my part, it never occurred to me that lighter fluid was a serious pollutant. I’ll be only too happy to switch to a chimney-style charcoal starter.

Someone gifted me their old gas-powered lawn mower last Fall, and I treated it like crap and it died after about three mowings. To replace it, I got a hand-powered reel mower — American innovation, Chinese manufacture, bought through Amazon.com.

Reel mower with a grass catcher.I can’t wait for the grass to grow! Oh, I shall dance the dance of Green Consumer Superiority the day I get to mow with this! It’s quieter and it doesn’t smell bad, besides requiring no gas and generating no pollutants of any type.

Well, I’m happy to change one practice at a time towards sustainability / not poisoning my neighbors. It’s a long road out of mutually-imposed suburban Hell, but making the trip is better than living and dying this way.

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5 Comments »

  1. duuude im so jealous! I want one!

    Comment by wilfridcyrus — June 10, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  2. Wanna bring it over and mow OUR lawn? Also the fields, which have to be mowed (1) to get rid of the invasive autumn olives and (2) so meadow larks and other birds can nest. And so on. Seriously, though, kudos on your choice of lawnmowers. We have been working at cutting down on car trips (trying to combine errands etc.), and of course we never, ever use charcoal lighter fluid. Hmm … does a propane torch contribute to ozone formation?

    Comment by Kris — June 10, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

    • I tried running over some overgrown patches of wildness in the back, and the mower is pretty useless in that situation. It seems to want grass near a particular height, though it will catch everything if you go over it a few times. So, no, I’m not coming out to mow your fields in 6″ wide strips!

      Comment by paragardener — June 11, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  3. Yeah, the focus is always on consumers doing something to recycle and conserve and so on, and rarely on corporations. It’s really bullshit. Even the stuff labeled “Made of 40% post-consumer recycled blah-blah!” is, alas, simply more profitable because the people who are environmentally conscious have higher average incomes.

    Meanwhile, the focus on evil CO2 has lessened every other concern about corporate pollution. Mercury emissions? CFCs? Sulfur dioxide? Well, whatever– as long as plants don’t breathe it, it’s fine. But that CO2 shit has to stop. Uh-huh.

    I could literally feel how bad the air quality was this weekend, and see it in the air too (what is haze when there’s no humidity? Aha! It’s dust!). We closed up the house and ran the AC because I could not tolerate the air quality. Now I know how they feel in places like Seoul, where no one would (according to a Korean friend) ever go jogging out of doors; it’s bad for one’s health.

    Comment by freelearner — June 11, 2012 @ 3:45 am

    • I think that this ozone problem is largely about small-scale stuff… weed whackers and cars and so on. Any kind of VOCs or combustion (NOx) can generate a little ozone, so the coal-fired power plant is pumping it out, too (I guess that they are not expected to shut down on bad air quality days, unlike joggers and asthmatics). Nonetheless… take the standard practices of driving to work and maintaining a lawn, and multiply them by every “functional” adult, and the little people can accomplish a lot of pollution. Well, at least we can choose to be responsible to our environs, without justifying it as profit-enhancing move!

      Comment by paragardener — June 11, 2012 @ 5:52 pm


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