When we look at the state of the world at the moment, society as we know it becomes increasingly more aware of pollution and how it affects our daily lives. From insufficient waste management to dangerous and constantly changing weather patterns, even the air we breathe is becoming headlines on the news and social media platforms alike. There’s no point trying to deny it anymore. We need to accept that our world is changing dramatically and if we aren’t capable of implementing the changes necessary, life as we know it will change and not for the better.
The problem with pollution is that it doesn’t go away. Instead, it continues to grow and every facet of our life has an impact on it. From the groceries we buy all carefully wrapped in (mostly non-recyclable) plastic to the war happening halfway around the globe, our environment is interconnected. Our economy, as strong or feeble as it may be, causes more harm to the environment than good and it’s not like we couldn’t make it less harmful. Unfortunately, however, the interests of those controlling our economy are sometimes completely limited to profits. That is not sustainable and we can breathe it, see it and taste it in the air around us.
While the Clean Air Act passed in 1970 is meant to regulate air emissions, all signs point toward a lack of positive impact from this act. Similarly, the EPA established the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) that define the maximum amounts of outdoor air pollution, but if implementation and regulations aren’t introduced, we’ll only be able to tell if the air is clean or not. That’s not how these issues are solved, but defined and we need to solve them.
Having a thriving economy should not come at the expense of human health and that is what the Lung Association compiled a list that showcases the State of the Air. They aim to hold the Biden administration accountable for the promises it made toward improving air quality across the US by providing measuring data to compare statistics.
The State of the Air 2022
By collecting data from official monitoring sites, the Lung Association aims to reflect how the Clean Air Act affects the national air quality regarding transportation emissions, manufacturing processes, and power plants. Ever since 2000 when the first report was published, they evaluated how the quality of air changed and shifted. While there have been periods when the air quality across the nation increased, over the past three years they discovered that due to climate change and change in temperature it becomes increasingly more difficult to protect human health.
Ensuring air quality is no longer only limited to the human impact from automobiles, power plants, or manufacturing processes as those are causing an increasing impact on the environment with wildfires and extreme heat leading to diminishing air quality.
Throughout their report, cities are listed based on three factors.
- Ozone Air Pollution – California retains the most cities on the list of the most polluted cities by ozone. The western and eastern coasts are most affected due to climate change impact that is undercutting most efforts to diminish ozone pollution.
- Short-term Particle Pollution – Only Pittsburg shows up on the list of the 25 most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution is not in the western of the US.
- Year-round Particle Pollution – On the list of the 25 most polluted cities for year-round particle pollution, eight are from California, four from the Pacific Northwest, and three are in the Southwest.
Where is the Cleanest Air in the US
Based on this comprehensive report that can be found here, a list can be compiled of the cleanest cities when it comes to particle pollution and ozone like we did for Florida’s cleanest cities. The State of the Air 2022 established 64 cities for which monitoring data could be gathered that had zero high ozone days and 80 cities where no high short-term particle days were recorded. These numbers, while they might be high are 32 less than in the year 2021.
However, after compiling all their data, they established a list of the top ten cities that ranked cleanest both when it comes to particle pollution and ozone emissions. The following cities had no day with high particle pollution or ozone emissions. They are also among the 31 cities that recorded the lowest year-round particle pollution levels. These cities are listed in an alphabetical order based on the data provided by Lung Association with additional livability details that might interest those considering relocating to a city that has the best air quality ratings in the US.
- Bangor, ME
With a population that exceeds 32,000, Bangor is a city located in Penobscot County, Maine. Besides its exceptional air quality rating, we can tell you that it is considered the 4th best place to live in the county. While the cost of living in this densely suburban town is lower than the average of the state, the crime rates are higher than those of the state. As a college town, it thrives in opportunities for young adults and it provides a good foundation for young families due to its tightly-knit sense of community so contact real estate agents in Bangor ME if this is what you want. The median household income is $42,000 while the median home value stops at $90,000.
- Burlington, VT
This medium-sized town in Vermont was the first city in America to transfer to completely renewable energy in 2015. The growing population surpassed 43,000 in 2022 and it’s located across Lake Champlain from the state of New York, and quite close to the border with Canada. While considered the 16th best place to live in Vermont it is the 5th best for your professionals in the state making the cost of living slightly higher than the state’s average. As the second college town on this list, while the median household income is similar to that of Bangor, the median home value is significantly higher at a median home value of $292,000.
- Charlottesville, VA
Located in Albemarle County, Virginia, the city of Charlottesville has a growing population of 47,000 residents with amble family-related activities and events available for those who chose to move there. Another college town with diverse demography despite its size it is the home of the University of Virginia. Only one hour away from Richmond and two and a half hours away from Washington D.C. the cost of living according to realtors in Charlottesville VA is slightly higher than that of the state. A median home value in the city comes at around $311,000 and the median household income is $50,000.
- Elmira, NY
This small town of around 27,000 residents is located in the western part of the state of New York, on the border with Pennsylvania. From a livability point of view, it may not be the best option in New York, but the town is beautiful and, despite its size, the job opportunities are plentiful and you can easily contact the local real estate agents in Elmira NY for more information. The cost of living is significantly lower than the average in the state of New York with the median home value stopping at $75,000 and the median household income going at $35,000.
- Harrisonburg, VA
With a population slightly decreasing at 52,000, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia is located close to the border with West Virginia. This college town will fail to overwhelm those looking for a place where they can enjoy the less educational aspects of college life, unless you like the outdoors. Realtors in Harrisonburg VA can tell you all you need to know about this city with a relatively reclusive population that enjoys more privacy than in other towns similar in size. The cost of living is lower than the state average, but with a median household income of $45,000 and the median home value at $215,000 investors need some more motivation to move their businesses here.
- Lincoln, NE
As the best place to live in the Lincoln area of Nebraska, this city is located in Lancaster County and is the first capital city on our list. As the 13th best city to buy property in the US, we’ll jump straight to the median home value which is $184,000. The median household income is $57,000 and the population is steadily growing toward 300,000. While being the capital city, it is also a college town that has an amazingly exciting downtown area despite what you might have expected from it. It likes to surprise. In both 2008 and 2013, it was named by the CDC as the healthiest city in the US and now the Lung Association is ranking it among the cleanest cities for air quality. Despite its size, it managed to retain its small-town feel making it a comfortable living city for families, young adults, and seniors alike.
- Roanoke, VA
With a population that’s closing in on 100,000 residents, located at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city of Roanoke, VA is ideal for hikers, nature lovers and mountain bikers. Similarly, the Upper James River Water Trail gives water-sports enthusiasts a great opportunity for kayakers and the education opportunities and quality is sure to attract young families that want to plant their roots in a healthy city that has a lower cost of living than the state average by 20%. Real estate agents in Roanoke VA will give you further information about the city if you contact them. When it comes to the median household income, Roanoke locals earn around $57,000 while the median home value is $250,000.
- Honolulu, HI
As the second-best place to live in Hawaii, it doesn’t come as a shock that Honolulu gives residents a densly urban feel with plenty of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, but there are plenty of parks as well. The second-biggest city on our list has over 340,000 residents that make sure to respect their culture which comes in part to the island’s isolation from the main land. While many people come here to enjoy their holiday, the island isn’t a theme park, and respecting the locals should come first especially considering the geopolitical situation of the island. When it comes to housing the median home value is $590,000, while the median household income is $65,000.
- Virginia Beach, VA
The biggest city on this list is Virginia Beach with over 450,000 and it is also the best suburb to raise a family in the Norfolk Area, the best suburb for young professionals in the area, and the place with the best schools in the area. It’s safe to say that many young families come here due to the high quality of life there and real estate agents in Virginia Beach VA know this. The incredible nightlife and demographic diversity is really fueling a lot of young professionals to move here and the high-quality education is helping young families settle down into a community filled with everything they could possibly want from family-oriented activities to natural fun that the whole family can enjoy. The median household income is $76,000 while the median home value is $295,000.
- Wilmington, NC
The last city on this list is Wilmington, North Carolina, with a sky-rocketing population of 127,000. It is the most diverse place to live in the Wilmington area and the third-best for young professionals, occupying the same spot for public schools in the area. This can be seen as a reason for its incredible growth trend according to realtors in Wilmington NC with the city’s annual growth rate of 0.9% and 19% growth from the previous census. While the cost of living is higher than the state average by 6%, the median home value is at $264,000 and the median household income is $48,000.
Seeing the comprehensive list compiled for you and all the reasons, besides the good air quality, we are confident that you can choose to relocate to one of the healthiest cities in the US. Feel free to look some more into these cities as most of them have some of the best qualities for a new start. Promoting cities that ensure the quality of life of their residents is the best that it can be is one way to bring the impact of the climate crisis to attention, but there are many other things that we could all do. Local produce, supporting local entities, and making sure that sustainability is at the center stage of all discussion is important as well. We all know that there is no planet B and living a sustainable lifestyle is the weapon we have at our discretion. However, it is the government and corporations that should implement large-scale changes if a real impact is to be seen. Like & Share this article with friends and family that are sick and tired of asthma attacks whenever they pass through a thickly polluted environment. Let us know if there are any other things that you’d like to read related to this, whether it is ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle or how to sustainably renovate your home. Sustainability trickles down into every aspect of our lives and by choosing sustainable alternatives we can force others to change their business models and give society what it needs.