Who has the cleanest air?
Every year the American Lung Association releases its list of the cities with the cleanest air. We've not only got the list, but we also looked into what the top cities have in common, what the ALA says shouldn't be in your air, and we put together a list of things you can do if your city doesn't have the cleanest air.
What the top cities have in common
The ALA's list this year is based on cities' yearly Particle Pollution.
What is Particle Pollution?
Particle pollution is the mixture of very tiny (actually, a wide range from tiny to really, really tiny) particles in the air. These particles can be from liquids or solids and range from coarse at 10 microns to 2.5 microns (often called PM 10 or PM 2.5) all the way down to ultra-fine particles at .1 microns. For some perspective, consider that a single particle of sand is about 90 microns!
The ALA looked at both the number of days that a city had high particle counts as well as a broader view of the particle counts over a year.
But wait, there's also Ozone Pollution!
While not used as a factor for this year's list, ozone can be incredibly important when high up in the atmosphere, but toxic when breathed in large amounts. Unfortunately, it can be the bi-product of a lot of our daily activities, including driving cars with gasoline engines.
Top Cities: Pick Your Poison
The top cities did not necessarily receive the highest marks in both categories, but typically they scored really well in one or the other. Since particle pollution can come from a wide variety of sources, both natural and man-made, your city may have pollution issues that are not what you immediately think of, including dust storms, bacterial issues, or even the particles left in the air by brake pad wear, or tire wear. No matter where you live, it still pays to be aware of your air!
Uh-oh. We're not on the clean list.
Stay calm. You don't necessarily need to move to one of the top 10 cities to experience better air. Here's some simple things you can do.
Being aware is half the battle. AirNow.gov is a great resource for you to keep on top of what the air conditions are in your own city. Staying indoors, particularly if you are filtering your air, is a great way to reduce your risks, especially on days when the pollution levels are highest.
Filter the air
Indoor air can be filtered in a number of different ways. We (of course!) recommend a great air purifier that targets your specific concerns, but you should also pay attention to your furnace and HVAC filters since they are your first line of defense. A few rules of thumb:
- Run your air purifier 24/7
- Choose a filter that targets your needs
- Change the filter regularly
#1. Farmington, NM (Population: 45,426)
A popular location for recreational activities and families, Farmington is a growing city full of culture, food and museums. Farmington is also the commercial powerhouse of the Four Corners and offers a variety of shopping opportunities. #2. Cheyenne, WY (Population: 62,448)
Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and has the largest population in the state. Cheyenne, also known as “The Magic City of the Plains,” includes attractions such as the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, a transportation museum, and tons of recreational and concert events during the summer months. #3. Casper, WY (Population: 59,628)
Casper is the second-largest city in Wyoming and hosts a unique end-of-summer event in the country a Great Duck Derby, where hundreds of rubber ducks race on the North Platte River for charity. Casper is also home to multiple historical sights with rich Native American culture. #4. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI (Population: 26,337)
Located on Hawaii's beautiful island of Maui, Kahului hosts the island's main airport. While it is not generally considered a tourist destination, Kahului has several malls and major stores and is home to Kanaha Beach County Park.
Wailuku (pop. 15,313) is located on the mouth of Iao Valley, a rainforest heavy location which serves as a beautiful tourist destination. Two ancient temples are located near the city, named Heiau, which literally means a Hawaiian temple. Wailuku also has many historical sites, including the Ka'ahumanu Church.
Lahaina (pop. 11,704) is the largest census-designated place on the island of Maui. It also serves as the gateway to the famous Ka'anapali and Kapalua beach resorts.
#5. Urban Honolulu, HI (Population: 337,256)
Urban Honolulu is the main city area of Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the capital of Hawaii and is known as one of the most liveable cities in the U.S. Honolulu has multiple tourist destinations, including zoos, museums, and beautiful beaches.
#6. Bismarck, ND (Population: 67,038)
Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota and is the second most populous city in the state. Bismarck is home to Dakota Zoo, located near the Missouri River, which features natural animal habitats. Bismarck also features Papa's Pumpkin Patch, a fun activity for people of any age.
#7. Elmira-Corning, NY (Population: 40,383)
Elmira and Corning are two cities located in Chemung and Steuben County. The City of Elmira is home to multiple memorials to honor veterans from World War I, II, and the Vietnam War. Corning has roughly 14 public schools and is known for Heritage Village of the Southern Fingers Lake, a Living History museum.
#8. Salinas, CA (Population: 155,662)
Located on the corner of the Salinas Valley and South of the Bay Area, Salinas is an iconic town with a large agricultural industry. It was also home to famous writer and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck. In fact, several of his novels are based in Salinas.
#9. Redding-Red Bluff, CA (Population: 103,937)
Redding and Red Bluff are two cities situated in Tehama and Shasta County, California. They are in close proximity to Sacramento and are 30 miles apart from each other. One of the largest rodeos in the West occurs annually in Red Bluff. Redding is situated by the Sacramento River and is the largest city in the Shasta Cascade area.
#10. Fargo-Wahpeton, ND-MN (Population: 117,024)
Fargo and Wahpeton are located on the edge of North Dakota, with Wahpeton sharing a twin city in Minnesota. Fargo is home to approximately 15 percent of North Dakota's population. It is a popular town to live in due to its market hub and North Dakota State University. Wahpeton hosts multiple attractions, including the Dakota Magic Casino and the Chahinkapa Zoo.
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