30 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S.

Cristopher Centers

In this article we take a look at the 30 cities with the best air quality in the U.S. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S. Great quality of life depends on great quality of air. So, which are the […]

In this article we take a look at the 30 cities with the best air quality in the U.S. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S.

Great quality of life depends on great quality of air. So, which are the cities in the US that are a breath of fresh air (literally!)? 

We are living in times where increasing population worldwide and massive increase in transport related emissions have resulted in constantly declining air quality. Even then according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report by IQAir, the United States has managed to reduce overall emissions of air pollutants over the last few decades. Air pollution also depends on several criteria, and not just carbon emissions as popularly believed. Carbon emissions from transportation and economic activities are definitely a concern but there are other pollutants present in the air that might be much more detrimental to residents’ health. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specified AQI (Air Quality Index) is the best standard to measure the level of pollutants in the air. AQI  consists of pollutants like Ground level ozone, Carbon monoxide, Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide  and airborne particles. Higher AQI figures implies greater levels of air pollution while anything over 200 AQI is considered to be hazardous to health  as per  EPA

However, the main concerns are particulate matter in the air including dust, soot, smoke and liquid particles or aerosols. Particulate matter can be of the PM 10 type, which are inhalable particles 10 micrometers or less in diameter, can be a cause of irritations and health implications and are majorly released from activities on construction sites, or mining. However, it is the finer particles (fine dust) of 2.5 micrometers or lesser or PM 2.5 that causes major health concerns to citizens and reduces visibility when in high concentration in the air.

Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock.com

WHO determines that a prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can  increase long-term risk of cardiopulmonary mortality by 6–13% per 10 µg/m3 of PM2.5 (8–10). Also, a study conducted in Europe – The Improving Knowledge and Communication for Decision-making on Air Pollution and Health (Aphekom) project- studies the impact on average life expectancy if PM 2.5 in polluted cities is reduced to WHO recommended levels. Among the 25 participating European countries, it was observed that they averaged at 10µg/m3 and residents could live 20 months longer on an average if PM 2.5 levels were perfect. 

It has been observed that 40% of the US population is under threat of premature death and disease risks due to the present air quality levels as per American Lung Association, 2018. 

So clearly, good air quality is not only linked to a good quality life, but also a longer life! So, if you want to live longer, you should be considering moving out of the 30 most polluted cities in the US and move to one of top 10 cities that are featured in this article. 

We have based our research on the Air Quality Trends Data  that track different air pollutants that affect individual cities and have ranked cities according to the lowest levels of PM 2.5 level measured in Wtd AM (µg/m3) for each of these cities, that have a population of 200,000 or more in MSA level. 

That being said, North America still has one of the cleanest air in the world, with one of the lowest PM 2.5 levels. Over 80% of the cities have successfully met the WHO targets for PM 2.5. This does imply that 20% of the cities are lagging behind the set targets, however, some cities have clearly been doing a better job than others. The United States also has some of the best air monitoring networks, resulting in gradual improvements in air quality even with increasing population and overall energy consumption. 

Of course, the recent improvements in air quality can be attributed to the unexpected Covid-19 crisis. The decreased energy consumption and emission levels have certainly spelt a respite for the quality of air around the world. But, as we get into the phase of economic rebuilding, emissions wise we are back to square one! Plus, the recent wildfires and climatic factors have resulted in deteriorated air quality in several places. 

So are you considering moving for a longer and better life? Here are the 30 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S.

30. Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ

PM 2.5: 6.7

PM 10 – ND 

Apart from a month of bad air days and elevated ozone pollution days, Atlantic City-Hammonton region gets a good score on its minimal level of particulate pollution. 

Roman Yanushevsky/Shutterstock.com

29. Rochester, NY

PM 2.5: 6.6

PM 10 – 24

Rochester air is moderately fresh throughout the year. The city experiences around 20 excellent air quality days!

28. Roanoke, VA

PM 2.5 – 6.6

PM 10 – ND 

AQI is a constant average in the city, however, some pollutants like Ozone and NO2 are present in the air. Even though air is low on pollutants, allergens like pollen may cause air related issues. 

Pixabay/Public Domain

27. Burlington-South Burlington, VT

PM 2.5 – 6.6

PM 10 – 14

The area is known for being one of the cleanest in the country. It experiences no bad air days! The pollutants level and short-term pollution are both kept under check. 

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

26. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

PM 2.5 – 6.5

PM 10 – ND

Bright Santa Cruz days, might spell fresh air! However, the air quality of the area fluctuates between good and average. The current year wildfires have caused the air quality levels to dip to unhealthy levels. 

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Most Expensive Cities to Live in California

Pixabay/Public Domain

25 .Norwich-New London, CT

PM 2.5 – 6.5

PM 10 – 30 

The serene city also known as “The Rose of New England” mostly experiences fluctuating air quality conditions, however, apart from average levels of PM 2.5 and PM10 , there are no pollutants that are a major problem in the city. 

24.Lincoln, NE

PM 2.5 – 6.5

PM 10 – ND

Lincoln experiences fresh air for about 90 days in a year and moderate air thereafter. Less than satisfactory air days are a scattered few. 

23.Fargo, ND-MN

PM 2.5 – 6.5

PM 10 – 78

Though mild traces of NO2 and other pollutants are concerning, overall Fargo enjoys good air quality. The average air quality conditions last through most part of the year. 

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bismarck, capitol, building, capital, lawn, trees, state capitol, art deco, great depression, north dakota, skyscraper, government, legislature, clouds, house of government,

RRuntsch/Shutterstock.com

22. Lubbock, TX

PM 2.5 – 6.4

PM 10 – ND 

Air quality remains at moderate level for most part of the year, with only a few days of deteriorated quality due to wildfire smoke.  

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15 Highest Paying Cities for Teachers

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21. Charlottesville, VA

PM 2.5 – 6.4

PM 10 – ND 

Charlottesville air quality meets the moderate standards, with low counts of most pollutants. AQI is at a constant satisfactory level.

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The Top 10 States With Fastest Internet Speeds

20. Ponce, PR

PM 2.5 – 6.3

PM 10 – 94

The city located in San Juan, enjoys a favorable AQI. Though PM 10 appears to be high, dry climate could be a contributor to low allergen levels in the city

19. Lynchburg, VA

PM 2.5 – 6.2

PM 10 – ND

Pollutants have been on a decreasing trend in Lynchburg. The PM 2.5 for the city is at 6.2, which is moderate level while other pollutants are unknown in the air. 

18. Syracuse, NY

PM 2.5 – 6.1

PM 10 – ND

The city of Syracuse has a whopping 337 good air days with the other 28 being moderate with no bad air quality days. 

17. Provo-Orem, UT

PM 2.5 – 6.1

PM 10 – 53

Though the PM 2.5 level is not very high, the Provo-Orem region has a short-term pollution problem. NO2 levels are also on the higher end. The city’s pollution levels are not problematic throughout the year. 

Fastest Growing Cities in America in 2015
Fastest Growing Cities in America in 2015

Kiseleva Vladislava/Shutterstock.com

16. Asheville, NC

PM 2.5 – 6.1

PM 10 – ND

Asheville’s annual BestPlaces Air Quality Index stands at 62%. The city, however, has its excellent AQI days which earns it a place among the 30 cities with the best air quality in the U.S. 

15. Reno, NV

PM 2.5 – 6

PM 10 – 78

The otherwise clean and satisfactory air quality of Reno, sometimes is severely disrupted due to smoke from wildfires that pushes the air quality from unhealthy to hazardous as it occurs. 

Hammon Photography/Shutterstock.com

14. Fort Collins, CO

PM 2.5 – 6

PM 10 – ND 

While air quality had been satisfactory for Fort Collins,the rising ozone levels have been a cause of concern in the recent past. 

Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs, CO

Pixabay/Public Domain

13. Santa Rosa, CA

PM 2.5 – 5.7

PM 10 – 73

Santa-Rosa has a moderate air quality, with moderate pollutants in the air, however not enough in levels to prove harmful to residents. 

Pixabay/Public Domain

12. Ogden-Clearfield, UT

PM 2.5 – 5.7

PM 10 – 50

Air quality Index is at 73% for the Ogden-Clearfield area. The city however has bad air days, and solid fuel burning is known to aggravate the air quality to unhealthy levels. 

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utah, provo, clouds, sky, lehi, lake, lindon, orem, storm, saratoga, mountains, awesome, utah lake, scenery, wasatch front, utah valley, spectacular, vast, moody, reflection, city, buildings

Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock.com

11. Salinas, CA

PM 2.5 – 5.5

PM 10 – 76

Salinas enjoys moderately good air quality throughout the year. The city has cool temperatures, often with “natural air conditioner” winds that are also said to blow away smog further inland, keeping the city’s air clean. 

Click to continue reading and see the 10 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S.   Disclosure: 30 Cities With Best Air Quality in the U.S. is originally published at Insider Monkey.

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