Press Releases

Washington, DC – A report released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that placing catalytic converters on lawnmowers and other small engines to limit emissions has no detrimental impact on the safety of these devices.

The report was requested by Congress last summer as part of a negotiated agreement between Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Christopher Bond (R-Mo) that headed off efforts by the Missouri Senator to prevent California from moving ahead with new limits on emissions from these small engines.

“The facts are in, and EPA's thorough safety study shows that not only will California's small engine regulations significantly improve our air quality, but they also present no safety concerns whatsoever for consumers and in fact may improve the safety of lawnmowers and other small engines," Senator Feinstein said.

“According to the California Air Resources Board, the daily emissions from the small engines California has regulated account of 7 percent of the state’s mobile emissions, the equivalent of over 3 million cars – so this would be an important step forward in cleaning our state’s dirty air,” Senator Feinstein said. “As an example, mowing grass with a gasoline powered lawnmower causes as much pollution as operating a car for 13 hours.”

EPA's exhaustive safety study examined the safety of installing catalytic converters on lawn mowers and other small engines through a variety of different methods, including laboratory and field testing and extensive Failure Mode and Effects Analyses.

EPA determined that the results of all these different tests "lead EPA to conclude that new emission standards would not cause an incremental increase in risk of fire or burn to consumers in use. Instead, compliance with the new standards should reduce certain safety concerns presented by current technologies."

“I hope the EPA will now move ahead expeditiously to give California a waiver to allow the implementation of the new emission standards,” Senator Feinstein said.

The EPA report came a day after a separate report was released by the National Research Council that also validated California’s pioneering efforts to adopt the toughest smog controls in the nation.

That report, by an 11-member committee of engineers, health and public policy experts, concluded that California still needs to adopt its own tougher emission standards for cars, trucks, and small engines such as lawnmowers in order to combat chronic air pollution.

“This is a positive affirmation of California’s role in reducing air emissions, and it provides strong vindication for efforts to protect the health of our state’s 37 million residents,” Senator Feinstein said.

Quoting from the report: “California should continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards. The role will aid the state’s efforts to achieve air quality goals and will allow it to continue to be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies that benefit California and the rest of the nation.”

The committee also found: “Although a second set of standards imposes additional costs and complexity to manufacturers, the committee concludes that the California program has been beneficial overall.”

The committee determined that the California Air Resources Board: “often tightens mobile-source emissions standards earlier and to a greater extent than the Environmental Protection Agency.”

On small engines, the committee said: “California should continue its pioneering role when setting emissions standards for small engines to aid its efforts to improve air quality and be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies.”