Landscapers are required by law to use low emission leaf blowers as of January 2009. Landscapers who purchase new leaf blowers should be sure to buy machines that meet the new requirements.

In April 2007, the Board of Legislators passed a bill that requires all licensed home improvement contractors who are engaged in landscaping, gardening, arboriculture and similar outdoor vocations to use low emission leaf blowers as of Jan. 1, 2009. The leaf blowers must meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Phase 2, 2007 exhaust standards.

All leaf blowers manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2007 meet those standards. Some leaf blowers manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2007 may also meet the standards - - check with the manufacturer.

When the law was passed in 2007, the department sent a letter to all licensed contractors informing them of the upcoming requirement. Since then, the department has included information about the law in the packet that is provided to all new and renewal license applicants. In addition, the license and renewal application forms require contractors to certify that they are now in compliance or will be as of January 2009.

Landscapers who are found to be using non-compliant leaf blowers after Jan. 1, 2009 face a potential fine of $1,000, as well as the denial or revocation of their license. The law does not apply to landscapers who only work on commercial properties or who work exclusively in Yonkers (which has a separate licensing procedure).
Many municipalities in Westchester have ordinances regulating the noise level and hours of operation for leaf blowers. The county law, which deals exclusively with emissions, does not pre-empt those local ordinances.