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1Thing: Use a Shovel

Snowblowers contribute to carbon monoxide emissions

April 12, 2019

Have you opted for the speed and convenience of that gas-guzzling behemoth that throws snow far enough to create a personal white-out condition? Or did you take the time to enjoy the outdoors in an environmentally responsible manner?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, the average snowblower creates about one pound of carbon monoxide emissions per hour. It’s the equivalent of driving a car for 70 miles. A problem with these small engines is that they have no emission controls and are not regulated. They also require hearing protection. According to the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association, ASHA, you can safely listen to a level of 70 dBA. Most snowblowers come in at 106 dBA, which falls into the category of extremely loud and can cause damage after a prolonged period.

A greener option would be an electric snowblower with versions that are either corded or battery-powered, and though they do require electricity, which usually results in emissions somewhere, they do not have the emissions output of gas models.  Electric snowblowers are designed for snowfalls of up to about 8 or 9 inches. Similar to the gas cousin, the electric snowblower is capable of clearing up to an 18-inch-wide path and moving up to 500 pounds of snow per minute.

Greener yet is the electric snow shovel designed for no more than 4 to 6 inches. They are generally lightweight and easy to maneuver, perfect for occasionally clearing off the driveway or walkway. They are relatively inexpensive and ideal for those who don’t have a lot of storage space.

The greenest option and best for the environment, the human powered hand shovel, only requires three meals a day and has the lowest emissions. Not only the best option for the environment, it’s good exercise and good for your body.

How much snow does the Minneapolis/St. Paul area typically receive?  The Minnesota DNR has summarized 120 seasons of snow data gathered in downtown Minneapolis (1891-1938), the Twin Cities International Airport (1938-2000, 2004-2011), and the Chanhassen National Weather Service Forecast Office (2000 to 2004).  Below is a summary of their data found on the MN DNR web page.

Inches                                                                   Days

Snowfall                               Avg                        Max                       Min

0.1 to 1                                 37.3                        54                           19

1 to 2                                     14.4                        27                           3

2 to 4                                     7.4                          16                           1

4 to 6                                     2.6                          8                              0

6 to 8                                     1.1                         5                              0

> 8                                          0.5                          4                              0


Based on the data, do your 1 Thing – for the environment and your health – shovel.