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Stinky. Loud. Noxious. Gas-powered mowers emit enough pollution that the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing they be equipped with catalytic converters. If passed, the rule would take effect in 2011 for riding mowers and 2012 for push models, according to the Associated Press.

A better, quieter choice is an electric mower, which is good for small yards. Cordless models run on rechargeable batteries and can be used in larger areas. They don't emit fumes, but since most electricity in North Carolina comes from coal-fired power plants, electric models aren't innocuous.

The best option is a reel mower. Silent and emission-free, many have self-sharpening blades. Pushing a manual mower is also good exercise. Your lungs—and your neighbors'— will thank you for it. Info: www.cleanairgardening.com/reelmowers.html.

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