So lawnmowers pollute significantly more than cars. Thus, using a lawnmower is basically the equivalent of breathing in auto exhaust (if not worse).

So I'm wondering - is there a way to minimize the negative health effects from using a lawnmower? Are there certain types of lawnmower gasoline that are cleaner than other types? What about high-octane gasoline?

Also, what about protecting oneself from all the particulate matter in the gasoline? And what about some of the emissions from the lawnmower like VOCs, nitrogen dioxide, and benzene? I'm not too concerned about carbon monoxide as it doesn't really have chronic health effects. The others do, though.

Also, I live under parents, so many of the options don't really exist

  • 5
    In general, 4 stroke engines tend to be much less polluting that 2 stroke engines. But if you are truly concerned, don't use a gas lawnmower. Use electric, or manual, or better yet, don't have a lawn (xeriscape, for instance)
    – DA.
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 4:54
  • How can we minimze the negative effects of using a gas generator? I'm not sure gardeners and farmers are qualified to answer this question and the fact that its a lawnmower doesn't mean its a gardening question, but according to the straightdope link, purchasing a new 2012 or 2013 model lawnmower should help. Or you could get a reel mower that doesn't pollute at all. Or maybe an electric model. I find it difficult to believe that a fraction of a gallon of gas causes more pollution than many gallons. I'd like to see an explanation of that.
    – Randy
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 4:56
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    I've been a professional gardener for 35 years plus, and have never, ever used a petrol mower. I cannot stand the stink as you walk behind the thing, for one, and I've no idea how others put up with it either. A sit and ride petrol one for large areas is a better and sometimes essential option, but otherwise I've always used electric, either rechargeable or with a cord. Much cleaner, better for me and for the immediate environment. I have the same issue with petrol driven leaf blowers, always use electric one instead.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 11:41
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    I forgot to say, you could just wear a pollution mask, an expensive one such as cyclists in cities wear, or the type people who work with toxic chemicals use, with a breathing filter.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 11:57
  • @Randy: To me it's a perfectly valid question for this site. What other gas-powered equipment that is designed to be moved around with you can you think of? It's only reasonable that concerned lawn maintainers know the best practices of dealing with this problem.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 13:14

2 Answers 2


Get one of those spiral push manual mowers. Bonus - Burn some calories instead of gas!


I use an electric lawnmower, which I actually am quite happy with now that I have learned to manage the extension cord. I've found it is much more reliable than gas mowers I have used in the past, and I enjoy not having to store/buy/refill/mix gas for it.

The cord does limit the effective range of the lawnmower, so if you have a large lawn, it may not be an option. Additionally, it takes some time to learn to manage the cord, similarly to how one might manage the cord while vacuuming.

If you have a smaller yard though, I do recommend an electric lawn mower. Look for good reviews before buying.

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