updated 5/7/2004 9:47:59 AM ET 2004-05-07T13:47:59

People with smoke-spewing, gas-powered lawn mowers are being encouraged to trade them for deeply discounted electric models as part of the latest effort to trim pollution from Southern California skies.

The regional agency charged with fighting the nation’s worst smog has 4,000 new electric mowers it hopes to sell this spring for a quarter of the normal price. People must give up their old mowers to get new ones for $100.

Eliminating the old gas mowers will cut nearly 20 tons a year of smog-forming emissions in the Los Angeles region, said spokesman Sam Atwood of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

In a year, a typical gas mower can pollute as much as 43 new cars, according to district officials who have long sought to reduce the number of the machines. Last year, the agency under a similar program persuaded 3,500 people to swap for the rechargeable electric version.

Vehicles — cars, trucks, ships, planes and trains — are responsible for 75 percent of the air pollution in the region, but district officials believe the swap incentive is one way they can make progress.

“Nowadays, even eliminating one ton of pollution is difficult,” Atwood said Wednesday. “All the very large reductions in emissions have been made and it’s getting tougher and tougher.”

The South Coast Air Quality Management District includes Orange County and portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

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