“Noise pollution is an invisible danger.  It cannot be seen, but it is present nonetheless, both on land and under the sea.  Noise pollution is considered to be any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms.” : National Geographic


Toronto Public Health’s April 2017 report. How Loud is Too Loud? Health Impacts of Environmental Noise in Toronto states:

“There is increasing concern about the impacts of environmental noise on health, especially in urban areas. The growing body of evidence indicates that exposure to excessive environmental noise does not only impact quality of life and cause hearing loss but also has other health impacts, such as cardiovascular effects, cognitive impacts, sleep disturbance and mental health effects.”

How Loud is Too Loud suggests construction noise levels can be reduced by quieter methods and equipment, noise barriers, silencers, mufflers, limiting the number of concurrent noise sources and using electric instead of gas powered equipment.

Despite the health risks cited by Toronto Public Health, Toronto’s Noise Bylaw allows unlimited, unsafe noise levels for construction and mechanized gardening equipment in residential neighbourhoods (refer to the Noise Bylaw for details).

  • Is it right that shift workers have their sleep interrupted by construction noise?
  • Is it right that your backyard BBQ is disturbed by noise from gardeners blowing leaves off lawns?
  • Is it right that kids and adults working from home should have their thoughts interrupted by excessively loud equipment?


Toronto’s Municipal Licensing Standards Division (MLS) is responsible for the Noise Bylaw and investigates complaints. Toronto’s Noise Bylaw came into effect in 2019. One of the Bylaw’s weaknesses is that it does not specify decibel limits for construction, mechanized lawn care equipment, or amplified sound levels in parks. The 2019 Noise Bylaw did not fully address concerns identified in the 2017 Toronto Public Health’s report, How Loud Is Too Loud? The noise situation was exacerbated when the Province extended construction hours to allow construction between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week, until September 2021.

On July 19th, 2023 Toronto City Council moved to pursue a ban on the use of two-stroke engine small equipment including gas-powered leaf blowers. The consultation process is under way to develop a new bylaw to implement this ban as early as 2024.  

Gasbusters is a grass-roots organization raising awareness of the environmental and health dangers gas-powered equipment causes. Over 120 Gasbusters made written submissions to Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meeting in support of banning two-stroke engine small equipment such as leaf blowers, mowers and trimmers and small construction tools. Gasbusters’ support of the ban was critical in convincing IEC members to recommend a ban to City Council.    

We know from this experience that numbers are important. As leaf blower season ramps up with the falling of leaves, we encourage you to help build Gasbusters’ ranks. Please invite your friends and neighbours to join Gasbusters, and to maintain pressure on City Council to implement a ban on two-stroke engine small equipment in 2024. You can join Gasbusters’ email list by sending your contact information to

To assist in raising awareness around this issue, Gasbusters has created a one-page pamphlet describing the perils of leaf blowers. Please feel free to post and distribute it widely: Stop The Damage From Leaf Blowers.pdf

In addition to Gasbusters, No More Noise and the Toronto Noise Coalition are volunteer organizations working to develop an educated and energetic public to advocate for a stronger and better noise bylaw and its enforcement. 

Please Get Involved – Numbers Count

  1. ASAP tell City staff that you support Toronto banning 2-stroke gasoline engines by sending an email to:, with a copy to Mayor Chow,, Councillor Mike Colle,, Dr. Eileen DeVilla, Medical Officer of Health, Cecilia Fernandez,, Energy & Climate, James Nowlan Energy & Climate.
  2. Join other groups advocating for a ban on two stroke engine equipment, and participate in their email campaigns to Toronto politicians and staff:
  1. Participate in City consultations on regulatory changes. Send feedback and make deputations on new regulations.


New York City’s Noise Code takes noise more seriously calling it a “menace”.  Noise mitigation plans are a prerequisite for ALL building permits (residential and commercial).  Comprehensive noise-abatement measures must be taken, such as jackhammers with noise-reducing mufflers and portable street barriers to reduce sound impacts.  The Code requires that construction equipment adhere to permitted noise levels.

In comparison, Toronto does not require noise mitigation plans for building permits except for major construction projects for after hours work.


Medical and scientific research attributes leaf blowers to serious health issues. Toronto Public Health’s 2001 Staff Report concluded that gas leaf blowers emit noise, and pollute the air with fine particulate matter and fugitive dust that adversely impact human health and the environment. The emissions contribute to poor air quality and noise pollution. Adopting low noise, low impact practices will protect the health of workers, children, the public and the environment. 

Toronto has ratified the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and thus recognized that 2-cycle engines discharge harmful noise and pollutants. Numerous jurisdictions, including Washington DC, Burlington VT, Vancouver and Beaconsfield, already ban or substantially restrict this equipment.

Another reason to stop using leaf blowers is the protection fall leaves and dead plant material offer pollinators and other plants if left to form a winter cover. For the benefits of resisting the temptation to tidy up the garden by raking and blowing leaves see Leave the Leaves!

Gas-powered leaf blower creating ear-splitting noise, and spreading fumes and fine particulate matter on a Lytton Park street. Photo courtesy of Harold Smith


Sound intensity, measured in decibels (dB), uses a logarithmic scale so sound intensity grows rapidly. A 20 dB sound is 10 times more intense than a 10 dB one. A 100 dB sound is one billion times more intense than a 10 dB one.

Source: From the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety


According to National Geographic:

“Noise pollution also impacts the health and well-being of wildlife. Studies have shown that loud noises cause caterpillars’ hearts to beat faster and bluebirds to have fewer chicks. Animals use sound for a variety of reasons, including to navigate, find food, attract mates, and avoid predators. Noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish these tasks, which affects their ability to survive.”



“If you and your neighbors inhale silica particles found in the dust, you could experience short-term and even long-term respiratory problems.” : Risks of Inhaling Construction Dust – New York Times

The Ontario Ministry of Labour recognizes that construction dust is a health hazard.

Unfortunately, too many neighbourhood contractors do not make efforts to mitigate construction dust despite the Toronto implementation of the Dust Bylaw enacted in September 2018.


The Dust Bylaw  (417-2.1. Dust; general requirements) says that no one should cause or permit dust as part of a residential construction activity to escape a residential property onto another premises. The responsibility to cause or permit dust falls upon the person doing the work and the person who directs the work (this includes homeowners).

Types of residential construction work that often cause dust include stonework and masonry.

“Section 417-2.1. does not apply to: (1) necessary municipal work; (2) work occurring on commercial and industrial properties; and (3) the construction of a multi-residential building, subdivision, or mixed-use development; and (4) a residential demolition project for which an approved demolition permit has been issued.”


Call 311.

Toronto’s Municipal Licensing Standards Division (MLS) has the responsibility to investigate complaints. Unfortunately, a response can take days or weeks after incidents are reported, often after work is completed and crews have left the site.

Considering that fines can be as high as $100,000 it is perplexing that people do not follow the Bylaws, and that Toronto lacks a more effective inspection and enforcement system.


The Dust Bylaw recommends one or a combination of the following dust control measures:

  • wetting the construction material
  • using a wet saw
  • using dustless saw technology
  • tarping or otherwise containing the source of dust
  • installing wind fencing or a fence filter
  • using a vacuum attachment when cutting
  • any other preventative measure deemed adequate by the authorities