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Another Reason Not to Cut the Grass

A recent study in Australia has found that grass releases a significant amount of hydrocarbon gases when it is cut

  • NWF Staff
  • Oct 01, 1998
When you consider the potential for pollution from power lawn mowers, it makes sense that mowing can be bad for air quality. But pollution from us-ing a push mower? Or even a scythe?

A recent study in Australia has found that grass releases a significant amount of hydrocarbon gases when it is cut. The green stuff naturally gives off the gases, and the emissions rise dramatically when grass is mowed. Scientists from Monash University and CSIRO, the nation´s largest science-research organization, determined that as it grows, grass releases the volatile organic compounds methanol and ethanol, among others. When it is cut, the emissions are 180 times stronger, and they take hours to return to their original level.

The researchers estimate that mowing can account for as much as 10 percent of hydrocarbons entering the atmosphere in a city about the size of Chicago (population 2.8 million). They suggest a ban on mowing during smog-alert days might be appropriate. Conservationists suggest natural landscaping that eliminates grass cutting would be even better.

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