Roughly half of the United States’ citizens reside within areas that are heavily affected by air pollution and are as a result hazardous to their health. The American Lung Association has for many years surveyed both the problem and the possible solutions of air pollution within the United States, and to date the problem still exists in many areas. What they’ve found is that around 47 percent of all Americans live within counties that are continually plagued with high to dangerous levels of air pollution that can become a real problem.
Those cities among the worst hazards when it comes to air pollution are all found in California, with Los Angeles and Long Beach actually topping the list with the most hazardous levels of ozone in the air. Fresno and Madera were seen to have the highest particle pollution.
It goes without saying that clean air is a vital part of what is needed for humans to survive, and to thrive, but how we go about creating a clean and safe environment for ourselves and future generations has yet to be perfected. There are still cities throughout the US that are relatively free of pollution, though they are becoming the exception instead of the rule.
The following have been deemed the cities with the best air quality in the US.
1. Cheyenne, Wyoming
There aren’t that many people in Cheyenne, which means fewer cars and less overall pollution. Clean air can be much easier to enjoy when there is less exhaust and ozone being kicked up by passing motorists. The city tops the list as one of the cleanest areas in the United States, and currently has the lowest particle pollution of any city listed.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe has been lauded as one of the only 20 cities in the US that is consistently one of the safest zones. As a city also known for its innovative art galleries, it also has become home for a sculpture that actually measures the particle pollutants in the air.
3. Bismarck, North Dakota
Thanks to being a fairly remote city and sitting downwind of other, more polluted cities, Bismarck comes in at about 11 overall when speaking of cities that are low on the particulate pollution scale. Thanks to colder temperatures this city is quite possibly one of the most pollution-free areas around.
4. Great Falls, Montana
This is another remote city that fully enjoys its clean atmosphere and pollutant-free environment. The city recently voted down an attempt to a project that would have installed a coal-fired plant within its borders. If not for the city’s desire to remain pollutant-free and preserve their clean air it might not have made this list.
5. Honolulu, Hawaii
There’s no doubt as to why Honolulu is virtually free of airborne pollutants considering its distance from the mainland. The tropical atmosphere is a welcome break to the lungs and is far more purifying than most other locations thanks to its isolation on the open ocean.
6. Anchorage, Alaska
The cool and wet weather conditions go a long way towards cleansing the air and keeping this city relatively pollutant-free. Added to that is the relatively low population that calls this city home. Less people, less pollution.
7. Amarillo, Texas
People in Amarillo don’t often drive big distances as often, which is one key reason why this city makes the list. It is also in a region that gains the benefits of moisture and wind, which can help to keep airborne pollutants from hanging about.
8. Redding, California
Unlike its heavily-populated and extremely polluted neighbors in the San Joaquin Valley, this city is further north and is not as populated as its southern counterparts. It is also not found in a geographical location that allows such pollution to hang about constantly, existing at a higher elevation where winds and moisture are better able to help with particle pollution.
9. Duluth, Minnesota
It’s small in size, has a low population, and is cold, wet, and windy. These are all ideal conditions that keep this city as pollutant-free as it currently is. There has also been a ban placed on burning trash and the use of diesel-burning engines that has helped keep the air clean in a huge way.
10. Fargo, North Dakota
Like a few cities on this list Fargo is quite small in its population and very cold during the winter months. The moisture created by these cold, wet winters is a large part of why the city is so inordinately free of airborne pollutants.
There are a great many cities through the United States that might enjoy a place on this list, but often one factor or another conspires to eliminate them as the pollution of their environment creates airborne pollutants that are far beyond levels that are considered hazardous to the health of their citizens. It is a marvel that some cities that have such high amounts of pollutants in the air still attract newcomers to their streets.
Quite often it is the opportunity that is seen at ground level that gathers people to pollution-riddled cities rather than the air quality. Clean air is sometimes taken for granted when people spend a large part of their time indoors where filters of all types and sizes can reduce or eliminate the threat of any airborne pollutants.
Unfortunately this leaves the issue of the increasingly hazardous environment that waits when one steps out of the door. What is truly frightening however about this matter is that the cities listed above could be just as bad as any other city caught in the dark haze that hangs above some areas like a cancer. It would take so little for cities such as Santa Fe, Redding, and even Fargo to become areas where the sky is no longer a clear, crystal blue, but the filthy, brown-smudged blur of the inner cities. One can only hope that enough people will realize the danger before it’s too late.
Peeples, L. (2016). 10 U.S. Cities with the Cleanest Air. Health.
Wakeland, R.G. (2016) Sculpture to Measure Air Pollution. Public Art Archive.