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America’s 10 Least Toxic Cities

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America’s 10 Least Toxic Cities

Last month, Forbes rated and ranked the most toxic cities in the United States–the portrait painted was distressingly grim with the worst offender spewing 11.3 million pounds of on-site toxic releases into the atmosphere in 2009. (Read more about it here: America’s 10 Most Toxic Cities.) Many readers were eager to know more about the other end of the spectrum–the cities that fared the best for being the least toxic–and Forbes complied with a new list.

For the new rankings, they began with the 80 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) which have data on toxicity levels, they then rated these areas based on five measures of pollution and toxicity.

Two of the measures were calculated using data from the EPA:

The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the number of days air quality in each of these metros rose above 100 on an EPA index. (At 150, the EPA deems air pollutant levels unhealthy for everyone exposed).

Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) represents the number of toxic substance pounds released, or produced, managed and disposed of in each MSA per year, as reported by the facilities generating them. While the TRI does not indicate these substances find their way into the environment or threaten exposure to humans residing in the area, it does reflect the sheer amount of toxic activity taking place.

Data to calculate the remaining measures came from Sperling’s Best Places (an online research aggregator that collects health and living quality indexes)–the ratings used here were for the MSAs’ water quality and air quality. Lastly, they tallied in data for Superfund sites (uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people). Sperling’s factors in both the number of active sites and the amount of cleanup funding they’re receiving.

Click through to see the top ten least toxic cities, number 1 being the cleanest of the group.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
1:48PM PDT on Mar 18, 2015

Thank you.

6:55AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012


1:05AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011


12:47PM PDT on May 10, 2011

helpful list

1:28PM PDT on May 1, 2011


1:28PM PDT on May 1, 2011


12:04PM PDT on May 1, 2011

What a clever way to display the 10 lease toxic cities. I love those old post cards.

9:30PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Interesting, however the water in Las Vegas tastes like sulfur and the people who live there have very low energy. PLEASE SIGN THIS CARE2 PETITION:

4:00PM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Good to know which city to visit first.

8:24AM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

gotta make the move from NYC soon ;-)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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