May 12, 2023


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Mike Thomas

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The 30 gas-powered lawnmowers residents exchanged for electric-powered mowers

that will be scrapped by the City.

Cleveland Heights Held Its First-Ever Lawnmower Exchange on Thursday to Improve Air Quality and Protect Lung Health

Based on the overwhelming response to the program, Mayor Seren announced a second lawnmower exchange will be held in a few weeks.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH—Yesterday, Thursday, May 11, in an effort to improve air quality, protect lung health, and encourage eco-friendly lawn care, the City of Cleveland Heights held its first-ever lawnmower exchange. Thirty Cleveland Heights residents who applied and were randomly selected to participate in the program brought their old gas-powered mowers to the Cleveland Heights Community Center, where Mayor Kahlil Seren and city staff traded them for new, fully assembled DeWalt electric-powered mowers.

Residents bringing their old gas-powered lawnmowers to the Cleveland Heights Community Center.

“In addition to being a driver of climate change, air pollution is a serious threat to public health, particularly for vulnerable groups like seniors, children, and people with pulmonary issues like asthma,” Mayor Seren said. “Our new lawnmower exchange program will help Cleveland Heights become a more lung-friendly city by taking 30 gas-powered mowers out of our neighborhoods and encouraging other residents to follow suit.”

The response from residents was so overwhelming that Mayor Seren announced at yesterday's event that the city will hold a second lawnmower exchange in a few weeks.


“So many people wanted to participate in this program that we had to close applications nine minutes after opening—we had already maxed out,” Mayor Seren said. “That kind of interest justifies another opportunity for residents to participate.”

“So many people wanted to participate in this program that we had to close applications nine minutes after opening..."

Cleveland Heights announced the lawnmower exchange on World Asthma Day, May 2, 2023, as part of its observance of Air Quality Awareness Week (May 1–5). Poor air quality is a major trigger for asthma, which affects nearly 1 out of 13 school-age children and is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness in the U.S. Switching from gas-powered to electric-powered lawnmowers is one way to help improve local air quality and protect lung health.

The electric-powered lawnmowers received by exchange participants.

Cleveland Heights contacted its partners for the lawnmower exchange program, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and MetroHealth, and used funds provided by the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) to purchase 30 electric-powered mowers at a discounted price. It then solicited applications from residents who were willing to exchange their working gas-powered mowers and randomly selected thirty applicants to participate in yesterday's event.

“Gas-powered lawn mowers may seem harmless to residents, however, they emit pollutants that can lead to diseases of the lungs and heart and contribute to smog on poor air quality days," said Cuyahoga County Board of Health Commissioner Roderick Harris, DrPH. "Making the switch to battery-powered mowers is a healthier and safer option. We are proud to partner with the city to raise awareness and encourage this change.”

While Greater Cleveland’s air quality has improved since the 1970s and 1980s, poor air quality remains an issue. In September 2022, the U.S. EPA downgraded Northeast Ohio’s 5-county region due to air quality concerns, including the ongoing public health threat of ground-level ozone. The American Lung Association (ALA) handed the Cleveland region an “F” rating for ozone in the 2022 ranking, counting 14 ozone action alert days.

Gas-powered lawnmowers contribute disproportionately to poor air quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, running the average gas mower for one hour produces 11 times more air pollution than running the average new car for the same amount of time.

Electric-powered lawnmowers are far healthier. Compared to gas mowers, electric lawnmowers emit:

  • 50% less carbon dioxide
  • 3,300 times fewer hydrocarbons
  • 5,000 times less carbon monoxide

To ensure they are permanently removed as a pollution source, Cleveland Heights will scrap all of the gas-powered mowers exchanged by residents.

Cleveland Heights residents learning about their new mowers.

While other programs encouraging the switch to electric-powered mowers offer vouchers or reimbursements covering a portion of residents’ costs, Cleveland Heights’ lawnmower exchange program is the only local program where residents incur no out-of-pocket costs. Cleveland Heights’ program is a one-to-one exchange that relieves residents of the burden of having to scrap their old mowers.


MetroHealth President & CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE, summed up their participating in the program, saying, “At MetroHealth, we are focused on building healthier and more equitable communities, and this partnership with the City of Cleveland Heights is just another example of that enduring commitment. Our work must extend beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics if we truly want to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. That includes doing everything we can to combat environmental harm and the negative health effects that accompany it.”

For more information about the City of Cleveland Heights’ Air Quality Awareness Week activities, including its creation of a new local air quality monitoring network (see Day 5 below), please visit:


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