Clean air is essential for health and well-being but, in modern industrialized America, finding a city or town with clean air can be something of a challenge. Moving to the country may be an answer for some looking for a new life and a healthy lifestyle, but for the majority of us with careers and the education of our children to worry about, this is not an option.
So where should you go to find the cleanest cities in America?
California has some of the most stringent anti-pollution laws in the country, but you are not going to find any California cities included in the list. In fact, you will find no West Coast city on the top 5 list of urban areas with the cleanest air!
Nor will you find the cities with cleanest air in the Mid West, nor the Deep South – to find them you have to turn to the Eastern seaboard and the results may surprise you.
Richmond, VA ranks number one as the American city with the cleanest air with an air quality index of 100% and an air pollution index of 94 (with 100 being the national average and the lower the number the better).
Richmond benefits from its location close to the Atlantic ocean, and despite having some industry in the city (notably the tobacco industry in a strange twist), the local economy is primarily service orientated with the surrounding areas being predominantly rural.
Richmond, VA may top the list of clean air cities in the US, however one state takes all of the next four places – New Jersey!
Evesham, NJ narrowly missed out on top slot with an air quality index of 100% and an air pollution index of 95 (one more than Richmond, VA).
Again, Evesham benefits from the combination of cold air fronts from the Canadian north combined with Atlantic ocean air providing a typical maritime climate. New Jersey is nicknamed the Garden State, and it is well named though closer to New York city there is a conglomeration of heavy industry including chemical and petroleum refineries.
Fortunately, Evesham nestles in the north western part of the state and is unaffected by big city or industrial pollution giving such a great air quality.
Marlton, NJ shares equal place with Medford, NJ – both enjoying an air quality index of 100% and an air pollution index of of 96.
As with Evesham, NJ, both of these cities enjoy clean air systems from the northern plains of North America and the Atlantic ocean air currents, while they are located away from major urban polluting areas such as New York, Pittsburgh or Washington D.C. In addition, the surrounding economic activities are primarily rural or tourist based, which are not heavy pollution producers.
NJ also shares some of the most stringent anti-pollution and air quality control measures in the country which also helps NJ generally, to rank so highly in air quality surveys.
Mount Laurel, NJ enjoys an air quality index of 100% and an air pollution index of 97 and while it ranks #5 in our list, if we expand the list to 10 cities we find that with the exception of the top slot occupied by Richmond, VA, all of the cities included are from New Jersey.
Clearly, California (which has San Anselmo, CA coming in at #11) and the rest of the country have something to learn from New Jersey!