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.
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!
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 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:
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