Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on May 28, 2013. Enjoy!
If you’re making plans for summer vacation, you might prefer not to visit the smoggiest countries. But where might you go to find the cleanest air?
The American Lung Association (ALA) ranks Wyoming’s capital city of Cheyenne as #1 in the U.S. for being the cleanest in annual particle pollution, but the city’s crisp mountain air has become smoggier as a result of natural gas drilling that has raised ozone levels, so they’ve been higher than Los Angeles. Maintaining consistently good air quality is a challenge.
As this World Health Organization map reveals, you’ll find some of the cleanest air in Canada, the U.S., Europe (especially its northern regions) and Australia. If you’re hoping to breathe a bit easier this summer, here are ten places you might want to visit based on information from the WHO and the 2013 State of the Air report (pdf) from the American Lung Association (ALA), as determined by the amount of ozone and long-term and short-term particulate matter in the air.
1. Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
“A lot of people come up north and they smell the air and the say “‘Oh wow. Amazing. The air smells so good.’ And we tend to take it for granted because we just have that all the time.”
Whitehorse can thank a lower population density and stricter regulations for its clean air, as well as a favorable climate.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
New Mexico’s capital has some of the cleanest air in the U.S., with low counts of both particle pollution and ozone — in fact, it is one of only 20 U.S. cities whose ozone levels have consistently been low. Situated in a region with 1.5 million acres of forest, the city has strict regulations to limit the burning of wood in the open air. Besides this, Santa Fe has been designated a UNESCO Creative City for its thriving art, crafts and design community.
Honolulu means “sheltered bay” or “place of shelter” in native Hawaiian; this aptly describes the city on the big island of Hawaii. Honolulu is about 2,000 miles away from the U.S. mainland, beyond where particles from burning coal can travel. The Diamond Head and Koko Head craters are nearby and the city has low levels of ozone and particle matter and receives plenty of rain. A well-designed transit system with dedicated bus lanes also helps to cut down on emissions.
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