No one likes to feel like they are behind the exhaust pipe of a 1967 VW bus when they step outside. Air quality and pollution has a significant impact on a personï¿½s quality of life, but itï¿½s also something that many people living in major cities donï¿½t think about. In cases of people dealing with the smog of places like Los Angeles, itï¿½s likely because they assume that crummy air is just a fact of life.
That isnï¿½t the case everywhere, as some large cities have managed to avoid the pollution that impacts many large urban areas. In some cases, this is because governments have made an effort to reduce dirty air by adopting eco-friendly ordinances; other cities are helped by their geography and climate. Regardless of the reasons, we rated these 10 large cities (with a population of over 200,000) as having the cleanest air in the United States based on a variety of factors. Take a deep breath and get ready to find out where in the U.S. that breath would be the healthiest.
- 1. Colorado Springs, COScore: 7.3/10
With a prime location in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs has the distinction of having the cleanest air (with a population of over 200,000) in the United States. This idyllic mountain city boasts healthy air 95 percent of the time, with a total number of air pollutants that are almost 10 times less than the national average. Itï¿½s little wonder that the United States Olympic training facilities are located in Colorado Springs; after all, breathing in clean air makes it a lot easier to train for the gold medal. Visit our complete Colorado Springs, CO air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 2. Seattle, WAScore: 7.2/10
The only thing that isnï¿½t grungy about the Emerald City is its air. The city might be the home of ï¿½Smells Like Teen Spiritï¿½ but the one thing you won't smell is dirty air. The Pacific Northwest is known for tall trees and plenty of gray weather coming from the Puget Sound. The good news is that both factors help to clean up the air and keep residents and visitors breathing healthy. Out of 305 days measured, only two of them had healthy air ratings below ï¿½good.ï¿½ With air this good, youï¿½ll be able to enjoy every sip of your double espresso macchiato from the local free-trade coffee shop. Visit our complete Seattle, WA air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 3. Anaheim, CAScore: 7.0/10
Anyone who has been to Disneyland knows that keeping things clean and tidy is a hallmark of the park. The same goes for the city, which boasts one of the best environments for air in the United States. Despite being in smog-plagued Southern California, Anaheim still has great air, with an air quality index that is 60.7 percent less than the national average. In Anaheim, they know that it canï¿½t be ï¿½The Happiest Place on Earthï¿½ if you canï¿½t breathe. Visit our complete Anaheim, CA air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 4. Montgomery, ALScore: 6.8/10
Montgomery is the home to a Hyundai automobile plant, where they have been making an increasing amount of eco-friendly cars. That spirit seems to have rubbed off on the city as a whole, because Montgomery has some of the best air in the South despite a heavy manufacturing presence. This is highlighted by the fact that the city's pollution index (which measures the amount of the most hazardous pollutants in the air) is 68.7 percent less than the national average.. Visit our complete Montgomery, AL air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 5. Santa Ana, CAScore: 6.8/10
Orange County evokes thoughts of warm California sun and its county seat is near the top of the list when it comes to having the best overall air quality. Much like its neighbor Anaheim, Santa Ana is in the Top 10 despite being in an area of the country normally associated with smog and dirty air. In fact, the air in Santa Ana is some of the best in the state, with 96.2 percent less heavy pollutants in the air than the state average. Visit our complete Santa Ana, CA air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 6. Honolulu, HIScore: 6.7/10
Itï¿½s not just the ocean waters that are clean and blue in Honolulu. Despite a growing population, Honolulu is still one of the most pristine cities in the United States and this extends to the quality of air. The local government understands that the tourism business is where its poi is buttered and theyï¿½ve made efforts to curb pollutants in recent years. It has paid off, as Honolulu has a quality of air that is ï¿½goodï¿½ almost 98 percent of the time. Visit our complete Honolulu, HI air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 7. Virginia Beach, VAScore: 6.7/10
People who live in or visit Virginia Beach will likely feel the steady ocean breezes that come in from the Chesapeake Bay throughout the year. Along with making Virginia Beach a pleasant place to visit throughout the year, the breeze serves another key purpose: it helps to blow smog and other pollutants away from the city. Itï¿½s a big reason why Virginia Beach has the top quality of air amongst cities on the Eastern Seaboard. When people come to Virginia Beach, they also find some of the cleanest beaches and other waterways in the country thanks to recent clean-up and revitalization efforts. Visit our complete Virginia Beach, VA air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 8. Fort Wayne, INScore: 6.6/10
Fort Wayne, like most of the Midwest, is incredibly flat. This means that you can see for miles, a fact that is certainly helped by the uncommonly clean air that residents enjoy. Fort Wayne has plenty of surprises to offer visitors including a new baseball stadium and convention center. However, all of the recent construction work apparently didnï¿½t cause the cityï¿½s air to turn sour. The cityï¿½s pollution index is 82.4 percent less than the national average. Visit our complete Fort Wayne, IN air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 9. Madison, WIScore: 6.6/10
Apparently, people in Wisconsin spend too much time eating cheese curds and watching Packers games to foul up their air. Madison is home to one of the largest state schools in the United States and the student body can enjoy partying, playing Frisbee in the main quad or occasionally studying while breathing in some clean air. You wonï¿½t find a bad air day in Madison and there are 73.9 percent less pollutants in the atmosphere than you would find nationally. Visit our complete Madison, WI air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.
- 10. Norfolk, VAScore: 6.6/10
Like Virginia Beach, Norfolk benefits from cool breezes from the Atlantic Ocean that blow many of the worst pollutants out from the city. Conservation efforts around the Chesapeake Bay area have paid dividends in recent years that have extended to the overall quality of life. Residents and visitors can enjoy good quality air days almost 90 percent of the time in Norfolk. Visit our complete Norfolk, VA air quality guide for other valuable health and safety information.