The post-corona locked-down industrial world might be getting its first dose of cleaner air in forever, but the 18 cities with the best air quality in the U.S. don’t need a pandemic to experience a fresh, pollutant-free breeze.
According to the World Health Organization, polluted air contributes to approximately 7 million deaths worldwide annually. Additionally, around 91% of the global population lives in areas that do not meet the WHO standard for clean air.
One of the things that factor most heavily into air quality calculations is PM2.5. PM stands for Particulate Matter, but specifically, those particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter. To give you a picture of just how small that is, take a look at your average hair. A “large” PM2.5 particle will be about 30 times smaller than that!
PM2.5 particles can be either solid or liquid, and they can come either from natural or from man-made sources. However, the latter are significantly more responsible for the presence of this particles in the air we breathe. Vehicles and various industrial processes such as those occurring in power plants are prominent sources.
To see the cities that lie on the other end of the spectrum, take a look at our article of the 10 cities with the worst air pollution in the US. Also, in case you’re interested in a few particular places, here’s how the air quality fares in Aguascalientes and in Indiana. You can also use IQAir to obtain specific details for any particular city on a given day along with trends and predictions.
To compile this list, we used the most recent findings published by State of the Air that took into account particle pollution, both year-round and short term levels, along with ozone pollution to determine the cleanest cities or general town or metropolitan areas in terms of air. Their findings report multiple “categories” of cities with the cleanest air, due to different cities ranking well for different factors. We’ve prioritized year-round particle pollution to choose which categories to include in our list, due to the long-term dangerous impact of PM 2.5 that we’ve already outlined above.
Let’s get to our list of the cities with the best air quality in the U.S.!
The first five cities on our list of the cities with the cleanest air in the U.S. rank well for both ozone and year-round particle pollution. We’ve listed them in alphabetical order before beginning our next category.
18. Anchorage, AK
Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, has a population of approximately 288,000 residents who breathe in some of the cleanest air in the country. Moreover, Anchorage features stunning geography with beautiful snow-capped Chugach Mountains and a coastline with mudflats, the latter of which are perhaps best observed from a distance.