Just Too Loud

Car alarms! Boom boxes! Leaf blowers! If the noise isn't making you crazy, it may be making you sick

Ted Rueter isn't joking about possibly moving to New Zealand. And if he does go, it won't be the frenzy or the expense of living in the U.S. that drives him away. It will be the leaf blowers. Americans now own more than 90 million of the infernal things, he says, each of them making the job of lawn clearing much easier--and much, much louder. Rueter, a onetime political-science professor at UCLA who is head of the advocacy group Noise Free America, already fled Los Angeles to get away from the leaf-blower blight, only to move to New Orleans and find...

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