Reducing smog in the Southland might be as simple as switching from gas to electric lawn mowers.
That is the hope of an exchange program unveiled by the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Tuesday at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.
All an interested resident needs is a working gas lawn mower, proof of residence and $150. In exchange, the AQMD will give the resident a new Black & Decker cordless electric mower. The electric mowers retail for $449.
The program aims to replace 2,000 pollution-causing gas mowers with electric ones.
"Believe it or not, these [2,000 gas] lawn mowers will account for 10 tons of smog per year," said William S. Craycraft, an AQMD board member.
The "Mow Down Air Pollution 2003" program is the first of its kind in the Los Angeles area. It is modeled after programs in San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco, officials said.
If successful here, officials said, they will consider expanding the pilot program within the area and increasing the number of electric mowers available for exchange.
Once traded in, the old mowers will be drained of their hazardous fluids and turned into scrap metal.
The program is open to residents of Orange County and the non-desert areas of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The exchange will take place Saturday at the California Speedway in Fontana and on April 12 at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. One thousand mowers will be available at each location on each date. They will be distributed beginning at 7 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.
Officials said that lawn mower emissions account for a fraction of the overall air pollution problem, but that it's important to fight air pollution from every source.
"All these small contributions add up to a big problem," said Sam Atwood of the AQMD. "Los Angeles is still the smog capital of the nation."
For more information, call (888) 425-6247.