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10 Cities with the Cleanest Air in the World

10 Cities with the Cleanest Air in the World
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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

The largest city in northern Canada, Whitehorse in the Yukon, has some of the cleanest air of any city in the world, according to the WHO. As Whitehorse mayor Bev Buckway says,

“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.

3. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

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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Photos from Thinkstock except top photo (Santa Fe) by Jim Nix/Nomadic Pursuits, photo of Whitehorse by grampymoose/Flickr, photo of Great Falls by roger4336/Flickr

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9:45AM PST on Feb 27, 2015

Thank you

3:56AM PST on Jan 18, 2015

Live long and prosper!

10:26AM PST on Nov 28, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

12:42PM PDT on Aug 30, 2014

Thank you

9:22AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

1:38PM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

All of these are in cold climates except Honolulu. Guess this is the price of not being able to handle the cold

4:55AM PDT on Aug 18, 2014

My main home made it Switzerland! OH Canada...Honolulu being #3 shocked the #@#@ outta me! Cough Cough, live in California! I would dearly love to be invited to move to any of those 10 places IN A HEARTBEAT! Thank you for I am going to pull the covers over my head and hope someone rescues me out of....

12:55AM PDT on Aug 18, 2014

Thank you!

9:36PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Cindy: I would never visit Iceland or give them any of my money. They kill endangered whales for greed and thumb their arrogant noses at the world while doing so. They have no conscience about wildlife, they are like the Chinese they will kill anything they think can go into their stomachs. I don't trust or believe Iceland.

7:31PM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Our air in the whole US should be better now that we've all but lost our manufacturing base.

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